One of the most important churches in the center of Naples, Santa Chiara is part of a larger religious complex housing a monastery and archaeological museum. Its most remarkable feature is the beautiful cloister, with elaborately painted Rococò majolica decorations covering the columns, benches, and garden walls.
Santa Chiara was built in 1310 in the Gothic style by King Robert of Anjou for his second wife, Sancha of Majorca, and included two adjacent convents, one for nuns and one for monks. In the mid-1700s, the church was remodeled in a Baroque style; however, most of Santa Chiara was destroyed in 1943 during World War II bombings. When it was rebuilt 10 years later, it was returned to its original Gothic design. The spectacular 18th-century cloister survived intact, and today it’s the highlight of a visit to what is officially known as the Monumental Complex of Santa Chiara. The complex also includes the Museo dell’Opera Francescana, a traditional Neapolitan Nativity scene, and the archaeological area with Roman remains discovered in the aftermath of the war.
A visit to Santa Chiara is a highlight of any tour of Naples’ historic center, as it sits right along the famous Spaccanapoli thoroughfare just across from the Church of Gesù Nuovo. Join a walking or Segway tour of this vibrant city that also includes stops at Via San Gregorio Armeno, Sant’Angelo a Nilo, and the Castel Nuovo fortress. Foodies can opt for a Naples food and sightseeing tour to sample some of the city’s famous street food, and history buffs can combine a visit to Naples with a tour of the Roman ruins at Pompeii, just outside the city.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Modest attire is required to enter the church, so be sure to cover shoulders and knees.
- The complex is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- Walking tours of the historic center of Naples cover a fair bit of ground; choose comfortable footwear.
- The complex houses a café, restrooms, and a bookshop.
How to Get There
Santa Chiara is located in the square of Gesù Nuovo along the pedestrian Spaccanapoli thoroughfare. Much of the historic center of Naples consists of narrow alleys and tight corners, so walking is the easiest mode of transport from the city’s port and main train station. Naples is a major transportation and cruise ship hub, with direct trains from major Italian cities and ferries from Salerno and Sorrento.
When to Get There
Naples can be uncomfortably hot in summer, so try to visit in spring or fall months or schedule your tour to begin in the early morning before the temperatures soar. The complex is open daily, although it’s closed on Sunday afternoons.
Highlights of the Historic Center of Naples
Santa Chiara is located in Naples’ historic center of Naples, which consists of more than 10 distinct neighborhoods along the Spaccanapoli. Highlights include the 13th-century Castel Nuovo, the Teatro di San Carlo (the oldest opera house in Italy), and Piazza Plebiscito. Roman and Greek ruins lie below the center, and the National Archaeological Museum houses artifacts unearthed at Pompeii and Herculaneum.