The most famous basilica in Naples, this church was built in 1310 by King Roberto I d'Angió as the burial church for the Angevin dynasty. In the 18th century, it was lavishly decorated by the best artists of the time, but bombings in 1943 destroyed much of the art. A subsequent restoration in 1953 brought it back to its original Gothic structure. A large rose window decorates the facade, flanked by a majestic bell tower that dominates the neighborhood (its lower part is 14th century).
The interior is simple but monumental in size, with 10 chapels opening onto the central nave. It contains many royal tombs, including the grandiose tomb of Roberto d'Angió, a magnificent example of Tuscan-style Renaissance sculpture. From the sacristy you can access the Coro delle Clarisse (Choir of the Clares), with its beautiful 14th-century marble portal. The nuns sat in the coro during Mass, protected from the public; only fragments remain, sadly, of Giotto's frescoes that decorated its walls. After your visit to the basilica, walk behind the church and enter the door to the right: It leads to the unique Chiostro delle Clarisse, the monastery's main cloister. Strikingly decorated with bright majolica tiles in the mid-18th century, it is considered a masterpiece of Neapolitan art. The spaces adjacent to the cloister house a museum, the Museo dell'Opera di Santa Chiara, dedicated to the history of the monastery and attached basilica. It exhibits sculptures and reliefs by local artists, including the beautiful Crucifiction and the Visitation, both by Tino di Camaino; it also gives access to the excavations of thermal baths from the 1st or 2nd century A.D.