The San Paolo Maggiore Basilica is one of the oldest churches in Naples, with a history dating back to the 8th century. The basilica has a striking Renaissance-style façade. In Roman times, a temple dedicated to Castor and Pollux occupied the spot.
San Paolo Maggiore Basilica Naples
Address: Piazza San Gaetano, 76 – Napoli. Telephone: +39 081 454048. Opening Hours: The basilica is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.. On Sundays and holidays, the basilica is open from 8.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission Fee: Free.
(Note: Opening times and admission prices may have changed since the time of writing).
History and Description
The original church was built between the 8th and 9th centuries. The pronaos of the ancient temple was still standing at that time and was integrated into the church. Now only two columns are still visible as the rest collapsed in 1688, due to an earthquake.
The current architecture dates from the 16th century, when the basilica was renovated and enlarged. The renovation was under the direction of architect Francesco Grimaldi (the transept). Giovanni Battista Cavagna was later responsible for the nave and Giacomo di Conforto renovated the side chapels.
In the 18th century, the interior of the church was redecorated by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro and Francesco Solimena. They used elements of the ancient Roman pronaos collapsed in the earthquake.
During World War II, Naples was heavily bombed, and the San Paolo Maggiore Basilica was one of many buildings that suffered damage. Many works of art had to be restored.
What to see
The frescoes adorning the dome depict “Events in the Life of Saints Peter and Paul” and “Victory of the Neapolitans over the Saracens.” The painter was Massimo Stanzione, who worked on them between 1643 and 1644.
In the cloister to the left of the church are a number of columns that came from the Roman temple.