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History of Naples

The Greco-Roman Era

9th Century BC

Settlers from the Greek island of Rhodes establish the first settlement on the small island of “Megaride” off the coast of today’s Naples. With the support from the Greek colonies of nearby Cuma, the settlers establish a settlement and name it after “Parthenope” (in the Greek mythology Parthenope is one of the three Sirens who threw herself into the sea and drowned because her love for Ulysses was not returned; her body was washed ashore at Naples, which was called Parthenope after her name).

600 BC

The city of Neapolis (Greek for “new city”) is formed . The original settlement is subsequently named Palepolis (old city).

328 BC

Rome defeats Naples in a war. However a treaty allows Naples to continue as an independent city.

90-89 BC

Rome grants the citizens of the Campania region roman citizenship.

79 AD

Mount Vesuvius erupts and destroys Pompeii, Ercolano and Stabia.


Romulus Augustus, the last Western emperor is deposed and incarcerated in the Castrum Lucullianum (today known as Castel dell’Ovo), a castle/fortress on the small isle of Megaride.

The Duchies of Naples


Belisarius, sent by the Eastern Emperor Justinian, conquers Naples and establishes a Byzantine Duchy.​


Under Byzantine domination, Naples rebuffs several attacks from the uncivilized Longobards. Naples becomes an independent Duchy. Stephen II is appointed to Duke of Naples by Constans II, he later switches his allegiance to the pope and is subsequently nominated Bishop.​


After numerous attacks, the Napolitans defeat Saracen forces at the Garigliano river.

The Norman and Swabian Naples


The Neapolitans hand their city to Roger II, King of Palermo who becomes the first monarch of the kingdom of Naples.


William I, son of Roger II of Sicily, commissions the construction of the first castle in Naples: Castel Capuano.


Power over the city is handed to Henry IV of Swabia (Bavaria), Son in Law of Roger the Norman.


Frederick II Hohenstaufen, King of Sicily and Head of the Roman Empire commissions the first university: Università degli Studi.

The Angevin Dynasty


Charles of Anjou, son of Louis VIII of France, conquers the city. He becomes King under the name Charles I.​


Charles of Anjou I commissions his architects Pierre de Chaulnes and Pierre d’Angicourt, to build the magnificent castle Maschio Angioino.​


Robert of Anjou is proclaimed King of Naples. He was the third (living) son of King Charles II of Naples.​


René of Anjou becomes King of Naples (René I of Naples).

The Aragonese Period 


Alfonso of Aragon, son of Ferdinand I of Aragon, enters the city. The Aragonese control also marked the beginning of a humanistic era and Southern culture.


The reign passes from Alfonso of Aragon to Ferdinand I who is only 35 years old. His kingdom is challenged repeatedly by the Angevins.


Ferdinand I crushes a revolt of the Barons.

The Spanish Vice-Regency


Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, an emissary of the Spanish Throne, also known as “The Great Captain”, arrives in Naples to command the Spanish part of a French/Spanish coalition formed between Ferdinand of Spain and Louis XII of France.


A violent eruption of mount Vesuvius threatens the population of Naples. In appreciation for having spared the city and its people, the citizens erect a monumental obelisk and dedicate it to the city’s patron San Gennaro.


Tommaso Aniello (abbreviated also called Masaniello) instigates and leads a revolt of the “malcontenti” (discontent i.e. unhappy people) against the Kingdom.


A severe epidemic of Pest breaks out in the city and eradicates one third of the population.


A devastating earthquake cause vast destruction of landmarks and buildings.

The Austrian Vice-Regency


Beginning of the short Austrian Vice Regency.

The Bourbon Era


Carlos IV of Bourbon defeats the Austrians and ascends to King of Naples and Sicilies.


Carlos IV of Bourbon ascends to the Spanish Throne as Charles III of Spain and passes the throne of Naples to his eight years old son Ferdinand IV under the regency of Bernardo Tanucci.


A group of patriots and intellectuals proclaim the Parthenope Republic (Repubblica Partenopea). King Ferdinand IV flees the City to avoid captivity by the French. The Republic only lasts six month and Ferdinand IV regains his throne.

The French Decade


Napoleon Bonaparte appoints his brother Giuseppe to King of Naples.


Joachim Murat, brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte through marriage to Caroline Bonaparte, succeeds Giuseppe Bonaparte as King of Naples.

The Reinstatement of the Bourbons


After the fall of Napoleon, Joachim Murat first joins Napoleon in Corsican exile and later attempts regaining Naples through an insurrection in Calabria. Ferdinand IV re-gains the throne of Naples, defeats the insurrection and orders Murat’s execution.


Following Ferdinand’s death, his only son Francis II is proclaimed Kind of the two Sicilies. He is to be the last of the Bourbons of Naples.

Naples After Italian Unification



Garibaldi seizes the opportunity of a Kingdom weakened by internal uprisings, and assembles a group of thousand volunteers (“I Mille”) known as the Redshirts. He takes control of the city and later of the remaining region. He declares himself dictator of Sicily under Victor Emmanuel II.


The city suffers a severe cholera epidemic​


After overcoming the epidemic, entire city blocks are demolished under a program called “Risanimento”, a name given to the large scale re-planning and re-building of cities following Italy’s Unification. Examples are the Corso Umberto and the Galleria Umberto I.

Contemporary Naples ​



After a four-day rebellion (le Quattro Giornate di Napoli), Napolitans push the Germans out of the city and open the way to the Allied Forces.


Last eruption of Mount Vesuvius


The master piece Napoli Milionaria, marks the beginning of a long list of successful Works by Eduardo De Filippo, an actor, playwright, author and poet, who was appointed Life Senator of the Italian Republic (1981).


Commendatore Achille Lauro, the Italian Onassis and shipping magnate becomes Mayor of Naples. He was re-elected in 1956 and 1960. He was one of the most vocal defenders of the monarchy until the mid seventies, even though Italians by referendum in 1946, decided to send the monarchy into exile and become a Republic.


A strong earthquake with the epicenter in Irpinia, devastates large parts of Naples.


Naples hosts the G7 and gains prestige on the word stage.


Wars between crime syndicates, an unresolved waste disposal crisis, and the uncontrollable petty crime surgeance reflect on Naples with a negative image among Italians and the World.

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