Naples, also known as Napoli in Italian, is one of the most iconic cities in Italy and one of the most popular destinations in the entire Mediterranean region. Its history spans back nearly 3,000 years to the ancient Greeks who founded the Naples area during the 8th century BC. Since then, this southern Italian city has gone through countless transformations and has been under the rule of the Roman Empire, the Barbarians, Spain, and Austria, to name a few. The city is currently home to nearly a million residents with several million more living in the surrounding districts. If you’re thinking about visiting for your next vacation, here are 20 fun facts about Naples to guide you through Neapolitan history and culture.
20 fun facts about Naples | History & culture
#1 Naples is the ‘new city’
Napoli comes from the Greek word Neapolis which means “new city” or “new town”. It was originally given this name by its early Greek inhabitants in the 8th century BC.
#2 One of the largest city
Naples is the third largest city in Italy after Rome and Milan.
#3 Naples residents are Neapolitans
Naples residents are referred to as Neapolitans, or Napoletano in Italian.
#4 Naples is home to several ocean species
Naples is situated near the Gulf of Naples, or the Bay of Naples, which is home to several reefs, species of tuna, amberjacks, and tiny spotted sharks.
#5 UNESCO world heritage site
In 1995, the historic city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
#6 3rd Century Catacombs
The San Gennaro Catacombs in Naples date back to the third century AD and contain ancient graves, crypts, and countless dark and chilling tunnels.
#7 The main church was built in 13th century
The main church in Naples is the Roman Catholic Naples Cathedral, known in Italian as Duomo di Napoli, which was built in the late 13th century.
#8 Creation of the pizza
The very first pizzeria in Italy and the entire world, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, was opened in Naples in 1830. It still remains open today.
#9 Creation of the Margherita pizza
The classic Margherita Pizza got its name from Queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni after she visited Naples in the late 19th century.
#10 Home to 3 castles
Naples is home to three large castles which are known as Castel Nuovo, Castel dell’Ovo, and Castel Sant’Elmo. All three of these castles date back to at least the thirteenth century.
#11 Legend says an egg is buried in Castel dell’Ovo
Castel dell’Ovo is translated roughly to Egg Castle and is linked to a legend involving a magic egg that contained protective powers. This egg is said to have been buried in a secret location within the castle.
#12 Close to Mount Vesuvius
The Naples skyline features the looming Mount Vesuvius which erupted in 79 AD and buried the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
#13 One of the most densely populated cities.
Naples is the most densely populated city in Italy despite having fewer inhabitants and less tourism than other Italian cities.
#14 One of the largest funiculars
The Central Funicular in Naples opened in 1928 and is one of the longest and most used funicular railways in the world.
#15 The city is divided into several districts
Naples is divided into several districts or zones that are named after their locations or featured attributes.
#16 The Academy of Fine arts opened in 1752
The world-renowned Neapolitan Academy of Fine Arts and museum was founded in 1752 by King Charles VII and houses several works of art from the middle ages.
#17 Capital of the Campania region
Naples is the capital of the Campania region which comes from the aptly named Campania Felix, the latin term for “fertile countryside”.
#18 One of the largest historic centers
The historic Naples city centre is the largest in Europe and spans an entire 4,200 acres across the city.
#19 Only became part of Italy in 1860
Naples only became part of the new Italy in October of 1860 as part of the Italian Unification movement.
#20 The Royal Palace of Naples dates back to the 17th century
The Royal Palace of Naples dates back to the seventeenth century and is one of the largest and most visited structures in the city.
For an experience that’s packed with both new and ancient treasures, good food, and stunning landscapes, a summer in Naples is everything you want and more. These fun facts about Naples only scratch the surface of what can be discovered while spending time in this majestic location. As the locals say, you never know what you will stumble upon when exploring the winding city streets!
Pompeii Tour | Small Group
Daily (except Mon & Thurs) at 10.30am 2.5 hrs