Santa Chiara, Naples

Abbey in Naples

Naples - Santa Chiara - Cloitre
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Jean-Christophe BENOIST

Santa Chiara is a historic religious complex in Naples, Italy, comprising a church, a monastery, tombs, and an archaeological museum. Situated on Via Benedetto Croce, the easternmost leg of Via Spaccanapoli, its facade faces the church of Gesù Nuovo. This complex is a striking feature of Naples, built in 1313-1340 by Queen Sancha of Majorca and King Robert of Naples, who is also buried there.

Architectural History of Santa Chiara, Naples

Originally constructed in the Gotico Angioiano style, the church underwent significant Baroque renovations in the 17th century by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro. However, following severe damage from Allied bombings during World War II, a restoration aimed to return it to its presumed original state by 1953, though this restoration has been subject to some controversy.

The church’s layout is unique due to its large rectangular shape and lack of an apse, features that set it apart from typical church constructions. Inside, the main altar leads to King Robert’s tomb, with a nuns’ choir behind a screened partition allowing nuns to view Mass without being seen. This setup reflects the early Clarissan architecture adapted for the visibility of religious rites to its cloistered inhabitants.

Interior Features of Santa Chiara, Naples

The interior, once Gothic, was transformed into Baroque during renovations from 1742 to 1762, with contributions from artists like Francesco De Mura and Giuseppe Bonito. Unfortunately, much of the interior decoration was lost in the 1943 bombings. Notable burials within the church include King Robert of Anjou and members of the Bourbon dynasty, as well as national hero Salvo D’Acquisto.

Majolica Cloister of Santa Chiara, Naples

The cloister of the Clarisses, added by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro in 1742, is renowned for its vibrant majolica tiles in a Rococo style, presenting a striking juxtaposition against the contemplative life of the nuns. This cloister is decorated with frescoes, now largely degraded, and unique floral decorations on its pergola-like octagonal columns.

Museum at Santa Chiara, Naples

Today, the complex also houses a museum that offers insights into the church’s history, archaeological findings, and the remnants from the fire during WWII. It includes an impressive collection of Baroque presepi (nativity scenes), adding to its cultural and historical significance.

Santa Chiara serves not only as a place of worship but also as a monument to the artistic and architectural evolution of Naples, reflecting changes in style and function over centuries.

The Santa Chiara, Naples appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Naples!

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Visiting Santa Chiara, Naples


Monastery: Monday to Saturday 9:30 am – 5:30 pm. Sunday 10:00 am – 2:30 pm.

Basilica: Monday to Saturday 8:00 am – 12:45 pm and 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm. Sunday 9:00 am – 12:45 pm and 4:30 pm – 8:00 pm.


Adults: €6

Address: Santa Chiara, Via Santa Chiara, Naples, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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