Santa Chiara (Naples)
Santa Chiara is a religious complex in Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, southern Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, that includes the Church of Santa Chiara
Santa Chiara
Santa Chiara is Italian for Saint Clare.Santa Chiara may refer to:*Santa Chiara , several churches with this name*Basilica di Santa Chiara, in Assisi*St. Clare of Assisi, founder of the Poor Clares and companion of St. Francis...

, a monastery, tombs and an archeological museum.


The double monastic complex was built in 1313-1340 by Queen Sancha of Majorca
Sancha of Majorca
Sancha of Majorca was the second wife but only Queen consort of Robert of Naples.-Family:She was a daughter of James II of Majorca and his Queen consort Esclaramunda of Foix....

 and her husband King Robert of Naples
Robert of Naples
Robert of Anjou , known as Robert the Wise was King of Naples, titular King of Jerusalem and Count of Provence and Forcalquier from 1309 to 1343, the central figure of Italian politics of his time. He was the third but eldest surviving son of King Charles II of Naples the Lame and Maria of Hungary...

, who is also buried in the complex. The original church was in traditional Provençal-Gothic style
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

, but was decorated in the 1744 century in Baroque style
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

 by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro
Domenico Antonio Vaccaro
Domenico Antonio Vaccaro was an Italian painter, sculptor and architect, the son and pupil of Lorenzo Vaccaro. Lorenzo was in turn a pupil of Cosimo Fanzago and was part of a large family of artists including Andrea Vaccaro, a pupil of Girolamo Imparato.Domenico Antonio was born in Naples and his...

. After the edifice was almost entirely destroyed by a fire after the Allied bombings during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, it was brought back to the alleged original state by a disputed restoration, which was completed in 1953.

The large rectangular building is 110.5 meters long inside the walls, and 33 meters wide. The walls of the nave are 47.5 meters tall, and the nave itself is 82 meters long. There are nine lateral chapels on each side of the nave, the roofs of the chapels are vaulted, and they support the gallery that runs the length of the nave. Above the gallery are the lancet windows of the clerestory. An unusual feature of the building is that the lateral chapels are absorbed into the body of the church, giving Santa Chiara it's distinctive rectangular appearance. Another unusual feature of the building is the fact that the church does not have an apse, after the lateral chapels there is a section of the church with the high altar in the center, flanked by the rectangular friar's choirs on either side. Behind the altar is the tomb of King Robert, behind that is a wall separating the main body of the church from the nuns' choir.

The wall between the nave of the church and the retrochoir is penetrated by three screened grilles through which the nuns could observe the mass, while being invisible to anybody in the nave. There are also four windows in the wall which mirror the four windows on the exterior of the church. There is a large stained glass lancet window above the alter. Above this is a triangular pattern are three rose windows. At the apex of the point of the roof, above the level of the wooden beams of the ceiling is a fourth, smaller, rose window. The nuns choir is different in plan from the main body of the church, with two large piers supported by rib vaults dividing the space into three sections. Santa Chiara was the largest Clarissan church ever built and it was the first Clarissan church built where the nuns in their choir would have been able to view the performance of Mass.

The bell tower
Bell tower
A bell tower is a tower which contains one or more bells, or which is designed to hold bells, even if it has none. In the European tradition, such a tower most commonly serves as part of a church and contains church bells. When attached to a city hall or other civic building, especially in...

, separated from the main edifice, was begun in 1328 but was completed only in Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...


Interior detailing

The simple interior houses, behind the high altar, the tomb of King Robert and, in the side chapels, those of the Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

 king of Naples, Francis II
Francis II of the Two Sicilies
Francis II , was King of the Two Sicilies from 1859 to 1861. He was the last King of the Two Sicilies, as successive invasions by Giuseppe Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia ultimately brought an end to his rule, and marked the first major event of Italian unification...

 and his consort Maria Sophie of Bavaria, as well as of Queen Maria Christina of Savoy
Maria Christina of Savoy
Maria Cristina of Savoy was the first Queen consort of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies...

 and of the national hero Salvo d'Acquisto
Salvo D'Acquisto
Salvo D'Acquisto was a member of the Italian Carabinieri, awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valor in memory of his heroism.-Life:...

 (a carabiniere who sacrificed his own life to save the lives of 22 civilian hostages at the time of the Nazi occupation). The church was used, even before it was formally completed to hold the relics of Saint Louis of Toulouse, elder brother of King Robert. One of these relics was the brain of St. Louis, in an ornate reliquary which was decorated with a crown Queen Sancha had donated to the memory of her brother-in-law.

Famous is the cloister of the Clarisses, transformed in 1742 by Vaccaro with the addition of precious majolica
Maiolica is Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance. It is decorated in bright colours on a white background, frequently depicting historical and legendary scenes.-Name:...

 tiles in Rococò
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 style. The Nuns' Choir houses fragments of frescoes by Giotto.


The museum houses information on the history of the church, archaeological findings, remains of destroyed parts of the interior and other collections.
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