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San Domenico Maggiore Church – Naples

The Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore is filled with artworks collected over the centuries by the most noble and prestigious families of Naples, together with the holders of the patronage of the chapels.

The construction of the Dominican Basilica and the adjacent convent started in 1283 by the will of Charles II of Anjou. Because of the incessant wars and the imprisonment of the king, the works continued until 1324, when the Basilica was dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene in fulfillment of a vow taken by the king when he was in the hands of the Aragonese. Over the centuries, the Church of San Domenico has undergone several transformations and radical restoration after earthquakes and fires, or because of changes in taste. The renovation of the main altar goes back to the seventeenth century: it is in polychrome marbles and it was made by Cosimo Fanzago, then re-manufactured by Giovan Battista Nauclerio and Lorenzo Vaccaro.

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The interior of the church has three naves with transept. The apse is polygonal, recolling a Gothic typology present in other Angevin churches in Naples. The church is filled with artworks and has numerous examples of the Neapolitan sculpture of the XVI century, such as the altars and the funeral monuments, made by Giovan Tommaso Malvito, Girolamo Santacroce and Giovanni Merliani. Very interesting is the third chapel of the right nave:
the Chapel Brancaccio, in which came to light, after the restoration of the 1953, the frescoes by the Roman artist Pietro Cavallini, depicting the Crucifixion and the Stories of Saint John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene and the Saints Peter and Andrew, made in 1309. Along the left wall there’s the chapel of the Carafa, Counts of Ruvo, in which you can admire the wooden sculptures of the nativity scene by Pietro Belverte (1507-1511), an artist from Bergamo. The right aisle leads to the sacristy, a large rectangular room covered with carved walnut cabinets of the early eighteenth century decorated by Francesco Solimena (1709), who also made the frescoes of the vault with the Triumph of Faith over Heresy thanks to the work of the Dominicans. The peculiarity of this environment is the walkway over three sides of the room, on which 45 sarcophagus (covered with damask silk, brocade and velvet), are arranged in two orders and contain the remains of people related to the Aragonese court. The Chapel of the Rosary, the first of the left transept, contains an excellent copy by Andrea Vaccaro (1670) of the famous Flagellation by Caravaggio. It was commissioned to Caravaggio by Tommaso De Franchis, and he realized it from 1607 to 1609. Then it was transferred, for safety reasons, to the Museum  of Capodimonte, also in Naples. This also happened to another work, the Annunciation by Titian (1557), set in the fourth chapel along the same transept. Along the left aisle of the fourth chapel, you can see the tomb of Bernardino Rota, commissioned in 1569 to Giovan Domenico d’Auria, with statues personifying the Tiber and the Arno, that is Latin and Italian, as these languages were used by the author in his literary works. Furthermore, in the seventh chapel, of the Muscettola family, you can see the beautiful painting of Saint Joseph and the Child by Luca Giordano (1680-1685) on the main altar.

INFORMATION ADDRESS: Piazza San Domenico Maggiore 8 / A CHURCH: Monday to Saturday from 8.30 to 12.30 a. m. and from 16.00 to 19.00 p. m.
Sundays and holidays from 09.30 a.m. to 13.00 p.m. and from 16.00 to 19.00 p.m.
admission free
HALL OF SACRED FURNISHINGS: Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 to 12.00, Friday and Saturday also from 16.30 to 19.00; Tickets: Adults: € 3.00, reduced: € 2.50 for groups of 15 people.

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