In the heart of Naples is a walled complex of calm. The church and cloister of Santa Chiara are part of a monumental complex built in the 1300s by the Angevin monarchs, who were devoted Franciscans. They wanted to create a spiritual center for both the monks and the women of the order of the St. Claires. The monastery had a side for both, with the church and a cloistered courtyard included within the walls.

The complex was built between 1310 and 1328 and includes the Gothic church of Santa Chiara, with its austere exterior that hides a bright and airy interior with vibrant mosaic floor tiles and luminous stained glass windows. In the Kings Royal Chapel are the tombs of the royal family. Next door is the archeological area that preserves 1st century Roman baths. There is a museum called Museo dell'Opera that holds items and artwork relating to the Franciscan Monastery. You'll also find the Sala del Presepe with its beautiful nativity scene by Neapolitan sculptors and craftsmen, installed by Bourbon King Ferdinando IV.

But the highlight of any visit to Santa Chiara is the Cloister. Called the Chiostro Maiolicato, it was transformed in the 1740s with abundant decorations in maiolica tiles, an art that is famous in the area from Naples to Salerno. This enclosed courtyard with its plants, columns, and benches is a delightful spot of tranquility in the middle of the city. Spend some time gazing at the different painted decorations and enjoy the peacefulness.

The Complex of Santa Chiara is open daily from 9:30 AM til 5:30 PM and cost is €6.

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Address in Naples:

Via Santa Chiara.

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