The Basilica of Santa Chiara, or the monastery of Santa Chiara, is a monumental building of worship in Naples, one of the most important and great monastic complexes of the city.

The basilica has its entrance on Via Benedetto Croce, rising on the north-eastern side of Piazza del Gesù Nuovo, opposite the church of the same name and adjacent to that of the Poor Clares, once the latter being part of the monastic complex of Santa Chiara.

It is the largest Gothic basilica in the city, characterized by a monastery that includes four monumental cloisters, archaeological excavations in the surrounding area and several other rooms in which the homonymous Opera Museum is housed, which in turn includes in the visit also the chorus of the nuns, with remains of Giotto’s frescoes, a grand refectory, the sacristy and other basilic rooms.

Commissioned by Robert of Anjou and his wife Sancia of Majorca, the latter devoted to the life of seclusion even if unable to respond to this vocation, [1] the architect Gagliardo Primario was called to build the church and started work in 1310 to end them in 1328, opening to the cult definitively in 1330 although the consecration to Santa Chiara will take place only in 1340. The church, built in Gothic Provencal forms, soon took over one of the most important in Naples in which some of the most important works worked. artists of the time, such as Tino di Camaino and Giotto, with the latter performing frescoes on episodes of the Apocalypse and stories of the Old Testament in the choir of the nuns. [2] Together with the basilica, adjacent to it was also a cloistered place for the Friars Minor, who later became the church of the Clarisse. [1]

In the Basilica of Santa Chiara, on August 14, 1571, the pontifical banner of Pope Pius V and the stick of the command of the Christian coalition were solemnly delivered to Don Giovanni d’Austria before the departure of the fleet of the Lega Santa for the battle of Lepanto against the Turks Ottomans.

In 1590 he was long guardian of the royal monastery Antonino da Patti, author of various graces and miracles on the sick that will lead him to become venerable.

Between 1742 and 1796 it was extensively restored in Baroque style by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro and Gaetano Buonocore. The interiors were embellished with works by Francesco de Mura, Sebastiano Conca and Giuseppe Bonito; at Ferdinando Fuga, on the other hand, the marble floor was built in 1762.

During the Second World War a bombing of the allies of August 4, 1943 caused a fire that lasted almost two days which partly destroyed some of the interior of the church, thus losing all the frescoes executed in the eighteenth century and a large part of the Giotteschi frescoes executed during the construction of the building, of which only a few fragments have been saved. In October 1944, Father Gaudenzio Dell’Aja was appointed “representative of the Order of Friars Minor for the reconstruction of the basilica”. Later, the controversial restoration work focused on the medieval architecture remained intact to the bombings, bringing the basilica back to the original fourteenth century appearance and thus omitting the restoration of eighteenth-century additions.

The works finally ended in 1953 and the church was reopened to the public. The surviving sculptural works, after the reconstruction, were moved to the rooms of the monastery, now the Museo dell’Opera, while the monumental tombs, mostly real, which instead characterized the basilica remained on site, although some of them were heavily damaged.

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