Naples. Paysages, patrimoine, tourisme


Naples, population around one million, is nestled on the shores of an oft-praised bay. Travelers from across Europe have long been fascinated by the coast and sea sceneries and, during the eighteenth century, the Vesuvius dethroned the Phlegraean Fields, known for their ancient ruins and surprising natural phenomena as the favored travel destinations of Ancient Romans. Visitors of the region not only regale themselves with the wonders of this bay –Baia, Sorrento and the Costiera, Capri, the archeological gems of the cities of Pompeii and Herculanum, buried during the famed Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD – but also find within Naples a vast Historic Center , registered on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites since 1995, which still carries the architectural, artistic and cultural traces of the various societies that flourished there over 2700 eventful and complex years.
« Tourism » in Naples is no recent phenomenon. Spurred by discoveries and renewed interests, be they mineralogical, volcanological, archeological, ethnographical or artistic, which have, across the centuries, refreshed people’s taste and curiosity towards these places, the Europeans’ frequenting greatly contributed to building and spreading stereotypes and common ideas that are still today at the foundation of the representations of Naples.
Naples was Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Norman, Swabian, Angevin, Aragonese, Spanish and Bourbon before joining the United Italy. Each and every one of these periods left marks, more or less artistically important, in the stones of Naples, marks that have remained till today. The Historic Center of Naples has, first and foremost, an archeological dimension: Greek and Roman ruins, hundreds of churches and monasteries and their monumental cloisters decorated by prestigious artists, royal residences (such as the Royal Palace or the Reggia di Capodimonte, which is today a national art Gallery), many pallazi, those peculiar Renaissance and Baroque hotels which recall the noble inhabitation of the city, villas and gardens which offer spectacular natural sights… Alongside those, one can notice how the ever-growing population, in a movement that has grown since the sixteenth century, caused habitats to become unsanitary because of great numbers of people and intense traffic.
The great sanitation process of Risanamento which kicked off at the end of the nineteenth century and created holes in medieval neighborhoods, bombings during World War II or recurrent earthquakes such as the quake of 1980 greatly damaged or even destroyed some of the city’s heritage resources. But on a structural basis, many buildings in the Historic Center are in a state of dereliction and degradation. Some monumental buildings were transformed into miserable habitats, the ruined buildings which still carry remarkable artistic value, the difficult access to some churches which are almost always shut, the robbery of artwork… all these deplorable facts are regularly condemned and fuel a heated public debate. Many associations work regularly to protect and valorize monuments and works of art in the city. In June 2012, the European Union signed an agreement with the Campanie region and the Ministry of Cultural Heritage (Ministero dei Beni Culturali) to finance the restoration of the most endangered monuments in the Historic Center.


I- Tourist attraction and build...

II- Forming the artistic, archi...

III- Preservation, protection a...



Commune de près d’un million d’habitants, Naples est située sur les rivages d’une baie aux beautés naturelles vantées depuis l’Antiquité. Littoraux et paysage maritime ont fasciné les voyageurs de toute l’Europe au cours des siècles, le Vésuve se substituant au XVIIIe siècle aux attraits des Champs Phlégréens, séjour de villégiature des anciens Romains, connus pour leurs vestiges antiques et leurs étonnants phénomènes naturels...


Marin Brigitte
Professor in modern history, University of Aix-Marseille, TELEMME, MMSH