A walk through the Galleria Principe di Napoli (Prince of Naples Mall) is in itself a simple, yet sweet pleasure.
Ornate would be a one-word description of the Galleria Principe di Napoli. The combination of glass and iron is sheer poetry in architecture, especially for its time. The architects Giovanni De Novellis and Nicola Breglia were the ones who designed this 19th century shopping gallery.
Built between the years 1876 and 1883, Galleria Principe di Napoli arose as a response to the need to 're-sanitize' Naples. The town, which was just arising from the ravages of cholera, was in dire need of re-organization. The town has become overpopulated and overcrowded, with narrow streets and squalid houses being the norm. However, thanks to the efforts of Enrico Alvino, this part of Naples was redesigned to show its growth and progress as a town. Enrico Alvino was an Italian architect who was actively involved in the urban design of Naples in the mid-19th century. His other credits include the restoration of the façade of the Cathedral of Naples, the laying out of Cordo Maria Teresa (now known as Corso Vittorio Emanuele), the redesign of the Santa Lucia quarter and the conversion of the San Giovanni a Constantinopoli convent into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, among others.
And so Galleria Principe di Napoli was built as part of the expansion and enhancement of Via Fosse del Grano, along with other shopping centers such as the Galleria Umberto. Indeed, during this time when Naples was literally reinventing itself, the Galleria was one of the first things used to symbolize the urban renewal.
It is made of a glass roof, cast iron, and walls elaborately adorned with marvelous stucco décor. Breglia and Novellis designed this as an excellent blend of the traditional and modern construction techniques. The mall itself is inspired by the London arcades and the 'passages' of Paris. During its time, when it was an elegant shopping center, it was occupied by high-fashion boutiques and stylish shops.
The Gallery stands as an unfinished cross-shape, with a number of connecting staircases due to the different levels of access. However, it never really got into its design as a building with four wings because on the site for the fourth wing stood the church of Santa Maria di Constantinopoli. Thus, construction of the fourth wing never pushed through.
This museum Gallery is located at the Il Centro Antico neighborhood. The mall faces the streets of Via Broggia and Via Pessina, as well as the plaza located in front of the National Museum. The museum, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli boasts of the Farness collection is probably the largest art collection in Italy.
Today, the Valleria Principe di Napoli has only a few shopping opportunities. Instead, it is the site for government and private offices. Underneath, there are still some shops and cafes that sell replicas of the items found in the museum. However, the Galleria's imposing structure never fails to inspire.
Other nearby attractions include the Port'Alba, the Accademia di Bella Arti, the Piazza Dante and Piazza Bellini.