Spaccanapoli is the unofficial name of the street bisecting the historic center of Naples. This long, narrow street runs where the southernmost of the three decumani (the “Decumanus Inferiore“) was located in ancient Neapolis. Spaccanapoli is not the real name of the street. In reality it consists of three streets laid end to end, the Via Benedetto Croce, the Via San Biagio dei Librai and the Via Vicaria Vecchia.
History and description
Spaccanapoli means “Split Naples” and so it is no wonder that this is not the real name of the street. Whoever wants to know where this nickname originates, should go up to the Castel Sant’Elmo and then look down. The view will speak for itself.
The first part of the street, which starts at Piazza Gesù Nuovo, is actually called Via Benedetto Croce.
Halfway down, the name changes to Via San Biagio dei Librai and after the intersection with the Via Duomo, it becomes Via Vicaria Vecchia.
This last section is no longer part of the original historic center.
During the Renaissance period, many originally Gothic buildings in the street were renovated or even completely reconstructed.
In the 19th century, people tried to restore many of the buildings to their original style.
The Spaccanapoli street is about two kilometers long.
What to see along the Spaccanapoli
The itinerary starts just off the Spaccanapoli, with the Sant’Anna dei Lombardi Church on the Piazza Oliveto. Highlights in this church include the tomb of the architect Domenico Fontana and Guido Mazzoni’s sculpture group “Pietà” (also known as “Mourning of Christ”).
From here, the Calata Trinità Maggiore leads to the beginning of the Via Benedetto Croce and the Piazza Gesù Nuovo. Here, the Gesù Nuovo Church on the left, the Santa Chiara complex on the right, and the Guglia dell’Immacolato in the center are all highlights.
The “Dolls Hospital” (Ospedale delle Bambole) is a store full of mannequins and dusty dolls.
The 14th century Sant’Angelo a Nilo Church is especially interesting because of the tomb of Cardinal Brancaccio made by Donatello and others.
On the Piazzetta del Nilo is a statue depicting the river god the Nile. The god is kept company by football player Diego Maradona, who is still immensely popular in Naples.
In the San Domenico Maggiore Church, alongside no fewer than 45 coffins of members of the Aragón family, 14th century frescoes by Pietro Cavallini can be admired.
The Cappella Sansevero is graced by a number of sculptures, the most famous being the realistic Cristo Velato (“Veiled Christ”) by Giuseppe Sanmartino. Downstairs one can contemplate two anatomical models of human bodies, veins and arteries included.
Palazzo di Monte di Pietà: Late 16th century building that housed the Monte di Pietà Bank.
Palazzo Carafa della Spina: Built in the 16th century and probably designed by Domenico Fontana (Via Benedetto Croce, 45).
More sights in Spaccanapoli
Santa Marta Church: 14th century church that is almost never open.
Santi Filippo e Giacomo: Originally a 16th century church, renovated in 1758.
San Francesco delle Monache: Former church built in the 14th century, which today houses the Domus Ars cultural center.
Palazzo Venezia: originally built in 1412 as the Embassy of the Venetian Republic.
Palazzo Pinelli: Built towards the middle of the 16th century, it was completely restored in the 17th century after an earthquake in a Baroque style.
Palazzo del Panormita: 15th century Renaissance building.
Palazzo Filomarino della Rocca: Built in the 16th century, residence of several noble families. The philosopher Benedetto Croce lived here until his death in 1952. (Via Benedetto Croce, 12)
Palazzo di Sangro: 16th century building with a beautiful facade.
Palazzo di Sangro di Casacalenda: Palazzo built in the 18th century in Piazza Domenico Maggiore.
Palazzo Marigliano: This building from 1512 is also called Palazzo di Capua.