"Explore underneath San Lorenzo Maggiore" Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore Tip by leics
Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore, Naples: 20 reviews and 89 photos
At the end of Via San Gregorio Armeno (which leads off Via dei Tribunali) you will find the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore.
The church itself is worth a look, dating from the 13th and 14th century although with a much later facade.
But it is the excavations underneath the church and adjacent convent which are most important, imo. Where else but Naples could you walk from the present-day surface down into Roman and Greek streets whose buildings still stand two storeys high?
You start in the convent courtyard, where there are the excavated remains of a temple. You can enter some of the convent rooms...beautifully decorated and very important in their time. But when you go downstairs to the excavations (only open since 1992, after work which had taken 25 years) you will see something very special indeed.
About half the original Roman marketplace has been excavated. You will walk upon the same streets as Neopolitans of the past and see the buildings which show both their original Greek structure and later Roman additions. There's a 'bank' (still with the holes for its iron grille, a 'safe' and a clear place to queue), cafes (with ovens perfectly preserved and even a serving hatch for customers to collect their food), laundries, shops....a cistern for rainwater (arched over with stones, something the Romans knew how to do but the Greeks apparently did not), a fish market with stone slabs looking exactly the same as those I saw in the Cinque Terre villages...
When I visited I was given a guided tour by a very keen young volunteer, enthusiastic about practising his English. He was a most pleasant young man but I really would have preferred to have taken my own time. A guide will certainly help if you know little about archaeology or about how the Romans lived, but is not otherwise necessary, imo.
This is also an unmissable experience, I think, and one which is likely to be more appealing for children than the wonderful Archaeological Museum.
San Lorenzo is open 0930-1730 every day except Sunday, when it is open 0930-1330. There is an entrance fee for everything other than the church itself; I *think* I paid 9 euro but cannot find the receipt. As far as I'm concerned, the experience is worth the entrance fee.
Address: Via dei Tribunali/Via San Gregorio Armeno
Directions: Walk up Via dei Tribunali from the Forcella district (Napoli Centrale/Garibaldi) and the basilica will be on your left.
Phone: 081 290580
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