Are you heading to Naples, Italy’s soul-stirring city? Discover the prestigious Capodimonte Museum, one of the most famous museums in Naples!
The Capodimonte Museum in Naples is one of the city’s most prestigious museums. Situated in the Reggia di Capodimonte, a palace built for Charles of Bourbon by the famous architect Canevari, the museum is home to fascinating art collections, ranging from ancient to contemporary art. It also houses astonishing royal apartments and a splendid array of ceramics. Visitors will also love the museum’s outdoors, home to an abundant botanical garden and a perfectly restored hunting lodge. Featuring more than a hundred rooms, Capodimonte Museum is one of Europe’s largest museums!
We have prepared this mini-guide to help you visit the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, hassle-free. Below is everything you need to know about the museum, from its history to its collections, as well as information about access, rates, opening hours, and other essential elements.
So, what are you waiting for? Time to discover this extraordinarily rich haven of artistic heritage.
Also read: The 14 best things to do in Naples
Visit Capodimonte Museum in Naples: a little bit of history
In 1734, Charles III of Spain, at the time only Duke of Parma, took Naples from the hands of the Austrian Empire, besieging the Austrian garrison and capturing the forts of Castel Sant’Elmo and Castel dell’Ovo. His conquest of Naples was remarkable for the low intensity of violence and the very little damage done to the city and its inhabitants, among which he thus became quite popular. He then ruled Naples as Charles VII, though known his contemporaries as Charles of Bourbon to distinguish him from previous rulers of Naples that ruled from afar. Indeed, Charles III was notable for ruling the region from Naples itself and taking great care of the city. He was famous for his ambitious modernization policies, and for undertaking massive construction within Naples, from the San Carlo Theater to the Palace of Caserta and in 1738 he decided to build a new royal palace in Capodimonte Park, the last of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, alongside the previously mentionned Palace of Caserta, the first Royal Palace in the heart of the city and the Palace of Portici, located right next to the ruins of Herculaneum.
Architects Giovanni Antonio Medrano and Antonio Canevari had the difficult task of fulfilling his desire by creating a splendid residence in a purely neoclassical style, very popular in Europe at the time. From the beginning, the palace was intended to house the magnificent Farnese art collection which Charles VII had inherited from his mother, Elisabetta Farnese, last descendant of the sovereign ducal family of Parma.
Just after the French occupation, King Ferdinand IV, who used the palace’s tree-lined park as his hunting ground, extended the palace and designed its exterior by entrusting the architect Ferdinando Fuga with the task of optimizing the available space while adapting to royal requirements. After the reunification of Italy in 1861, the Reggia – the Royal Palace – was further enriched with works of art purchased, exchanged or transferred from the collections of the Bourbon Palaces. So much so that, due to lack of available space, the works were eventually distributed among various cultural institutions. While the antiquities were housed in the National Archaeological Museum, the fine arts and decorative arts collections were moved to the Capodimonte Museum.
The renovation works carried out since 1995 have made it possible to offer visitors a unique and pleasant experience. All visitors, whether young or old, can now discover these splendid works of art in a well-designed interactive and educational environment.
What to see and do at the Capodimonte Museum in Naples?
Make no mistake: spread over three floors and 160 rooms, Capodimonte Museum is one of Europe’s largest and most prestigious museums. Visit the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, you won’t be disappointed! On the museum’s ground floor, visitors will find all the essential information. Aside from a few learning rooms, the museum also features a mezzanine housing the Drawings and Prints Department, privately-owned works amounting to nearly 3000 unique pieces. Discover, for example, drawings by Michelangelo and Raphael, sketching the future paintings of the Vatican! A more modern section, opened in the 19th century, offers visitors the opportunity to discover magnificent pieces of furniture and works of art in a typical and perfectly restored apartment of the time. Catch a glimpse of life in the palaces in a bygone era.
The first floor
The first floor is home to a real gem of European art: the famous Farnese collection and its paintings dating from the 15th to 17th centuries. Discover the museum’s highlights such as the Danaë series of paintings by Titian, The Transfiguration of Christ by Bellini, Titian’s Pope Paul III and His Grandsons. The museum also houses masterful works such as the Crucifixion by Masaccio, Antea (also known as Portrait of a Young Woman) by the Italian Mannerist artist Parmigianino, The Misanthrope by Bruegel, and many other masterpieces. Visitors can also admire works from Cardinal Borgia’s personal collection, including art objects from the medieval period such as a 17th-century Muslim celestial globe and other cartographic works.
Home to the royal apartments, in the heart of the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, the first floor also houses a magnificent collection of delicate Italian and European porcelain, consisting mainly of perfectly preserved 18th-century works. On the same level, explore the collection of Mario di Ciccio, an antique dealer who donated majolica ceramics and bronzes to the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. Visitors can admire the Salottino di Porcellana (Room 52), the porcelain boudoir of Queen Maria Amalia of Saxony, King Charles III’s wife, who was an enlightened connoisseur of fine porcelain. Initially made for the Palace of Portici in 1757–59, the boudoir was later moved to the Capodimonte Palace in 1867. Designed by Giuseppe Gricci and produced in the Royal Porcelain Factory of Capodimonte, it consists of white porcelain panels decorated in high relief with festoons and genre scenes.
Finally, King Charles III was an accomplished and avid hunter so you will find a gun room on the first floor. It features one of the most beautiful collections of weapons in Europe, with arms and armors dating back to the 15th and up to the 18th centuries.
The second floor
The second floor houses a sublime collection of tapestries celebrating the Battle of Pavia, where the great Ferrante d’Avalos defeated the French in 1525!
Be sure to wander across the second floor’s gallery of paintings and sculptures, which can be dated more or less precisely from the 13th to the 16th century. The collection notably includes Caravaggio’s Flagellazione (The Flagellation of Christ, 1607–10), The Massacre of the Innocents by Matteo di Giovani, or Simone Martini’s Saint Louis of Toulouse Crowning His Brother Robert of Anjou. The museum’s second floor houses Ferrante d’Avalos’ collection, featuring several beautiful Neapolitan and Flemish still lifes, as well as an astonishing section dedicated to contemporary art. Don’t miss the painting titledVesuvius, masterfully painted by Andy Warhol and depicting the nearby Mount Vesuvius. This particular piece was created specifically for the Capodimonte Museum in Naples!
The third floor
Take the time to explore the third floor, a space dedicated to photographic works. The area hosts several works by 20th-century photographers, notably a collection of photographs by Mimmo Judice.
How to get to the Capodimonte Museum in Naples?
- By taxi or car
The Capodimonte Museum in Naples is located inside the park of the same name, in a building called the Palace of Capodimonte. If you plan to go to the museum via taxi, remember to indicate the museum’s exact address to your driver: Via Miano 2 – 80131 Naples. If, on the other hand, you plan to use your own vehicle (or a rented car), you will have to drive there via the “Tangenziale” ring road, take the Capodimonte exit, and finally park your car at the nearest car park: the Zerobio Teresa.
- By public transport
From Naples station, take the metro line 1 and get off at the “Museo” stop. Alternatively, take line 2 and stop at the “Cavour” station.
From the city center, you can hop on one of the many buses that serve the Capodimonte Museum. You can take lines 168,178, or C63 and get off at the Capodimonte stop, lines 168,178, or C63.
It can be convenient to rent a car in Naples as there are multiple excursions outside of the city. Capodimonte is reachable without a car, but it also quicker if you can just drive there and back, which also gives you more flexibility if you want to hit another location right visiting the Capodimonte Museum.
Visit the Capodimonte Museum in Naples: rates & opening hours
If you want to visit the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, you can take advantage of the extended opening hours: from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm, every day except Wednesday! Visitors will be allowed to enter the museum no later than 6:30 pm. Note that the second and third floors are only open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Please note that the museum is closed on January 1st and December 25th but remains exceptionally open on May 1st.
- Adult rate: €12
- 18-24 years old: €6
- Under 18 years old: Free of charge
GOOD TO KNOW:
– Once purchased, your ticket remains valid all day long, so you can leave the museum to relax or eat and return as many times as necessary during the day.
– It may happen that, due to understaffing or renovation works (not unusual in Naples…) some rooms or floors are closed when you visit the Capodimonte Museum in Naples. However, the museum’s most prominent rooms, and especially those on the first floor, usually remain open throughout the year.
– One of Europe’s largest museum, Capodimonte requires time to visit. It will take you half a day if you want to enjoy the museum’s vast collections fully.
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