Certosa di San Martino & Castel Sant’Elmo

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Both Certosa di San Martino and Castel Sant’Elmo were architectural feats of their time  and are still recognized today as impressive structures.  Both sit at the highpoint of Naples, in the Vomero area, and lend the most spectacular views of the city and the Bay.  The contrast between the ex-monastery and the ex-military prison sums up the true essence of Naples.

The Certosa di San Martino, or, Saint Martin’s Charterhouse, was initially a Carthusian monastery, completed in 1368.  In the 17th century it’s expansion  was directed by Cosimo Fanzago, and has remained the same exemplary baroque structure we see today.  In the early 19th century, under French dominion, the monastery was shut-down and subsequently abandoned by the religious order.  Today we can enjoy the museum the ex-monastery houses.  There you will find a fine collection of Spanish and Bourbon artifacts.  In addition there are plenty of  famous frescoes and paintings, not to mention one of the world’s finest presepes, or Nativity scenes.

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Right next to Certosa stands Castel Sant’Elmo whose origins date back to 1275.  It was originally built in a medieval architectural style, but was modified to serve strategic-defensive purposes.  Seen from an aerial view the castle takes the shape of a six point star, supposedly the most militarily strategic shape.  Ironically, the castle’s military use was minimal.  Instead, it’s dungeons got plenty of use as a military prison up as far as the 1970′s.

Castel Sant’Elmo: Via Tito Angelini, 20.
Tel: 0815784030
Hours: daily, 9:00- 18:30, closed Wednesday
Price: 3 Euro.
How to go: From hostel walk to Via Toledo.  Take the Funicolare Augusteo until the last stop, Fuga.  The Castle is at 5 minutes walking distance.

Certosa di San Martino: Piazzale San Martino 5.
Tel: 0815586408
Museum Hours: 8:30-19:30, closed Wednesday
Price: 6 Euro.
How to go: From hostel walk to Via Toledo.  Take the Funicolare Augusteo until the last stop, Fuga.  The Certosa is at 5 minutes walking distance