Santa Chiara ★★

The cloisters, Santa Chiara, Naples, Italy (Photo by Jean-Christophe BENOIST)
The cloisters

The most beautiful cloisters in Naples

Santa Chiara is the most rewarding of Naples' churches, built in 1328 and half-destroyed by incendiary bombs in 1943, which tore away later baroque decorations.

It was restored as best as possible to its Gothic state in 1953—complete with its famous and gorgeous majolica-plated cloisters.

The church of Santa Chiara

The light-filled interior is lined with chapels, each of which contains some leftover bit of sculpture or fresco from the medieval church, but the best three line the wall behind the High Altar.

In the center is the towering, multilevel tomb of Robert the Wise d'Angio, sculpted by Giovanni and Pacio Bertini in 1343. To its right is Tino di Camaino's tomb of Charles, Duke of Calabria; on the left is the 1399 monument to Mary of Durazza. 

In the choir behind the altar are more salvaged medieval remnants of frescoes and statuary including bits of a Giotto Crucifixion.

The cloisters of Santa Chiara

You have to exit the church and walk down its left flank to enter one of Naples' top sights—and the most relaxing retreat from the bustle of the city—the 14th-century cloisters.

In 1742, Domenico Antonio Vaccaro took the courtyard of these flowering cloisters and lined the four paths to its center with arbors supported by columns, each of which is plated with colorfully painted majolica tiles, interspersed with majolica tiled benches.

The open corridors along the sides are lined by (slightly ruinous) frescoes.

In the museum rooms off the cloisters are a scattering of Roman and medieval remains.

Photo gallery
  • The cloisters, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by Jean-Christophe BENOIST)
  • The monstery complex, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta)
  • Monastero Santa Chiara, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by Mister No)
  • The nave as it looked in 1942, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • The nave in August 1943, after an Allied bombing run, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • The reconstructed nave, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by Berthold Werner)
  • The central painted tile colonnade in the cloisters, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by Velvet)
  • A painted tiled bench in the Cloisters of Santa Chiara, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro)
  • A painted tile bench in the cloisters, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by MIchel Rodriguez)
  • The fountain in the cloisters, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta)
  • The frescoed corridors of the cloisters, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by Velvet)
  • A Crucifixion by Giotto in the Coro delle Monache, the monk
  • Robert of Anjou, a bust in wood, in the Santa Chiara Museum, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro)
  • Fragments of the 14C pulpit, in the Santa Chiara Museum, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro)
  • An 18C nativity scene, Santa Chiara, Italy (Photo by José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro)
Santa Chiara tours
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Free or reduced admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Santa Chiara for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

» more on discounts & passes
How long does Santa Chiara take?

It'll take you 20–40 minutes to wander through the site, but the quiet cloisters are so inviting, and such a nice break from the hurly burly of the city outside, that you may just want to sit for a spell and relax.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah

* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).