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Cappella Sansevero

This 16th-century chapel showcases Italian religious art, from marble sculptures to eerie anatomical creations. 

Cappella Sansevero is a 16th-century chapel in Naples that has an eclectic collection of Italian religious art. The chapel was built by a local duke, Giovan Francesco di Sangro, as appreciation to the Virgin Mary for curing his illness. See the delicate pieces of marble sculpture on display, including the Veiled Christ. There are also frescoes, elaborate marble flooring and unusual and graphic anatomical works. 

Spend an hour wandering the attraction. The chapel is suitable for families; however, young children may find some of the exhibits disturbing. The Veiled Christ is the chapel’s most famous piece of art. This 1753 work depicts Jesus Christ dead, lying flat and covered with a thin shroud. Notice the great detail of the piece in the soft folds of the shroud and the crucifixion marks on the hands and feet. The artist, Giuseppe Sanmartino, is famous for the way in which he made the marble shroud appear transparent. 

Many other statues dating back to the mid-18th century fill the chapel. Look upward to see the colors and intense detail of Francesco Maria Russo’s fresco, Glory of Heaven. Then glance down to look for patches of the original floor. The design looks like a maze, created using white and black marble. The work by Francesco Celebrano symbolizes the difficult path to enlightenment. 

Head downstairs to the underground chamber to see the chapel’s most unusual work, the Anatomical Machines. Two corpses, a man and woman, stand upright in glass cases. The vein and artery systems, as well as bones and teeth, are completely intact. It is not known how the artist, Giuseppe Salerno, was able to preserve circulatory systems so well. Today, it creates an eerie feeling but is nonetheless remarkable. 

Cappella Sansevero is located in the historic center of Naples, five minutes’ walk from Piazza San Domenico Maggiore. The closest metro station is Piazza Cavour. Walk to Piazza San Domenico Maggiore for cafés and restaurants.  The chapel is closed on Tuesdays. There is an admission fee, but children under 10 are free.


Guide to Exploring around Sansevero Chapel Museum


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