Santa Restituta: the secrets of the Duomo

by Gaia Borrelli

There Basilica of Santa Restituta it is a hidden gem in the Duomo of Naples. Many Neapolitan intellectuals are buried here, including the archaeologist Andrea De Jorio.

basilica santa restituta

Inside the Naples Cathedral great surprises are hidden, but this is already known; the first of all is the blood of our patron saint which periodically melts performing the famous miracle. However, the wonders of our cathedral do not end here.

In fact, few know that it rests its imposing Gothic mass on a place where two basilicas originally stood, that of Santa Restituta and that of Santa Stefania. Of both complexes, early Christian, relatively little is preserved today, but we can still enjoy the interiors of Santa Restituta, while Santa Stefania was completely destroyed. But let's proceed in order.

The Basilica of Santa Restituta it is undoubtedly the oldest Neapolitan basilica, therefore it has played a role of primary importance over the centuries. Its foundation, to be attributed toEmperor Constantine in the fourth century AD, it is even reported inside the "Liber Pontificalis", a very important historical source especially for the period of the early Middle Ages. The church of Santa Stefania was relatively more recent, built in the fifth century AD.

The Basilica of Santa Restituta was originally a church in its own right and was even larger. It was in fact made up of five naves, each with an entrance. At the time the Duomo in the thirteenth century, the basilica was incorporated into the building, thus losing the external facades. This is how we today perceive the basilica of Santa Restituta, which despite appearances, should not be classified as a simple chapel inside the Cathedral.

The sacredness of this basilica has never been questioned over the centuries, both because it stood on pre-existing Greek and Roman buildings, and because it was built with bare material, that is, coming from other ancient constructions of the Roman era. Only with the advent of Baroque aesthetics did they try to impose a restyling inside the basilica complex. A real quarrel was born, within which two real sides were created. The first deployment, led by Giacomo Cangiani, was absolutely opposed to any modernization; the second, headed by Carlo Celano, was on the opposite side of the first.

The issue was resolved not by an agreement between the parties, but by the earthquake of 1688, which caused considerable damage not only to the structure of the basilica, but also caused the columns of the facade to collapse. church of San Paolo Maggiore. Given these premises, it can be easily deduced that the church today presents itself as an amalgam of styles, within which the original columns have survived and support the arches of the side aisles, transformed into chapels.

In the central part you can perceive the magnificence of the Baroque intervention, especially important in the apse with the altar completely redone in the seventeenth century. Therefore, inside there are also works of extraordinary artistic value, such as the frescoed tondi by Francesco de Mura and the drapery of Archangel Guglielmelli. During the restoration works the floor of the church was raised and fictitious collars were created at the base of the columns. Today in some places it is still possible to see the original base.

However, the wonders of Santa Restituta do not end here. To the right of the apse is the oldest baptistery in the West, that of San Giovanni in Fonte. As if that were not enough, under the floor of the basilica you can still walk a large part of what was once there Neapolis Greek and later Roman. You can immerse yourself in the wonders of the Neapolitan subsoil, reliving once again the magic of our beloved's past Neapolis.

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