Naples Cathedral, il Duomo, may be a stunning 14th-century French Gothic church (built on top of a paleo-Christian basilica, built on top of a pagan temple) and the seat of the Naples Archdiocese, but its claim to fame is, shall we say, a bit more… miraculous.
The miracle in question is that of the liquefaction of the blood of San Gennaro, the Patron Saint of Naples, whose remains are tucked away in a special crypt that was installed below the apse in 1497. The miracle repeats itself, or so the faithful hope, every September 19th (and again in December and May). The ceremony takes place in the lavish Baroque chapel dedicated to the saint and foretells of good fortune for the Neapolitans.
Don’t forget to check out some of the Cathedral’s other treasures. The 4th century AD Basilica Santa Restituta was commissioned by the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine I. The Byzantine San Giovanni in Fonte is the oldest surviving baptistery of its kind in the western world. Peek in the window of the sacristy for a glimpse of the portraits of all of Naples Bishops and Archbishops since the 1st century AD (the Naples Diocese was elevated to an Archdiocese in the 10th century AD). Find the stripped back vault in the back of the left nave to see some of the original Gothic skeleton.
Entry to the cathedral is free but there is €1.50 charge for entry to the Baptistry.