Naples – Centro Storico – Via Tribunali – Stuff to See
Although originally laid down by the Greeks, Via dei Tribunali was the Decumanus Maximus or main east-west street of the later Roman city too. The parallel street, Spaccanapoli was the southern decumanus and Via Sapienza the northern decumanus (please see the separate posts for these streets).
These were traversed by the Cardo Maximus, running north-south, corresponding to Via Duomo today, and several smaller side streets known as cardini.
At the eastern end of Via Tribunali is Castel Capuano, one of three castles in the city. In the 1500s the law courts were located in the castle, which is how Via Tribunali got its name.
Over the entrance you can see the double-headed eagles of the coat of arms of Charles 1st of Spain.
Walking west from the castle you come to the tiny Piazza Sisto Riario Sforza which contains a ‘guglia’, a decorative obelisk, designed by the renowned Cosimo Fanzago and dedicated to San Gennaro the patron saint of Naples.
It was the prototype for Fanzago’s other guglias in Piazza del Gesù Nuovo and Piazza San Domenico Maggiore. Behind the guglia at the back of the square is the south side of the cathedral.
Further along Via Tribunali you soon come to Piazza Girolamini on the right. I love the overgrown façade of the church in the square, Chiesa del Girolamini.
I also really like the old junk shop that has had a couple of locations in this square over the years. It’s always good for quirky photo ops.
Just to the right of the entrance to the shop is an original Banksy, although who knows how long it will last given all the graffiti activity in the area (see my Centro Storico Street Art post).
About halfway along Via Tribunali you come to Piazza San Gaetano which was once the crossroads at the heart of the ancient city. The Greek Agora and Roman Forum were located here. You can see the some of the archaeological remains by taking an underground tour with Napoli Sotteraneo, the entrance to which is in the square (see Centro Storico Sotteraneo post).
In Piazza San Gaetano itself, the only remains of these old buildings are the two Roman pillars incorporated into the facade of Chiesa di San Paolo Maggiore. You can see them either side of the church door in this picture (see my Churches in the Centro Storico post for pictures inside the church).
The statue of San Gaetano (pictured above) is another Cosimo Fazango creation.
Also in the square is the Chiesa di San Lorenzo Maggiore which I think must be the parish church for the old town, also known as Quartiere San Lorenzo. Archaeologists have located the Roman forum under the church.
Running south out of the square is Via San Gregorio Armeno. Also known as ‘la strada dei presepi’ or ‘crib street’, it’s lined with the shops of artisans who make figures for the famous Christmas nativity scenes.
About three quarters of the way along Tribunali you will see the campanile of Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore alla Pietrasanta.
And slightly further on the entrance to the music conservatory which has seen better days.
There’s lots more to say about Via Tribunali so please think of this post as a work in progress rather than a definitive guide.
The street ends at Piazza Bellini where there are bars with outside terraces should you want a pit stop (separate post here). If you are feeling hungry there are several famous pizzerias along Tribunali (reviews here).