Naples (Nay'pels; Gr. and Lat. Neapolis, Ital. Napoli), till 1860 the capital of the kingdom of Naples, is the largest of Italian cities, and, with the doubtful exception of Constantinople, the most beautifully situated in Europe, 161 miles by rail SE. of Rome. The attractiveness of Naples, due not only to its site, but to its delightful climate, has inspired the proverb, 'see Naples and die.' Its charms have remained proof against defective drainage, impure water-supply, and the fever preserves of its poorer quarters, in course of removal since 1889. The impetus to this work was given by the cholera outbreak in September 1884, when in one night nearly 2000 people were attacked, and half of them died. The new drainage-works carry the sewage to CumAe, thus relieving the sea-margin of the liquid poison that used to stain the water black. An aqueduct opened in 1885 furnishes pure drinking-water to every part of the city. More recent still are a new harbour, solid embankments, and commodious promenades, new streets cut through the more populous quarters, and a fine embankment carried along the sea-front.
Naples occupies the base and flanks of a hill-range rising, amphitheatre-wise, from the sea, and divided into two unequal parts by the Capo-dimonte, S. Elmo, and Pizzofalcone heights. The most ancient and populous part of the city lies in the eastern crescent, and is intersected from north to south by the historic and densely peopled Via Toledo (now Via di Roma). A fine quay extends eastward to the Castel del Carmine. Westward runs the less ancient city, smaller in extent, but freer as to air and prospect. Along the sea-margin extend the royal gardens and the Riviera di Chiaja. Naples is three miles long and two broad. It has a modern look, but in spite of external change still presents the same noisy, vivacious, mercurial life. Its National Museum is becoming daily richer in archaeological treasure-trove from Pompeii, while its splendid aquarium teems with typical specimens of the flora and fauna of the Mediterranean. Of architectural interest Naples has little. Besides her five forts and four gates of mediaeval construction, she has upwards of 300 churches, including the archiepiscopal cathedral (1272-1316) of St Januarius, whose blood is said to liquefy in the phials containing it on three yearly festivals. The university (1224), with nearly 100 teachers and 5150 students, the royal palace, the catacombs, and, still more, the law-courts are worth visiting. The National Library (1804) has 375,000 books and 8000 MSS.; the University Library (1812), 150,000 books; and the Brancacciana (1673), 150,000 books and 3000 MSS. The San Carlo Theatre (chiefly for opera) is one of the largest in Italy, though much less popular than the San Carlino. Naples is one of the busiest ports of the kingdom, exporting wine and olive-oil, chemicals and perfumery, live animals and animal products, hemp and flax, cereals, curriery, etc. ; and importing cereals, metals, cottons, woollens, earthenware, glass, curriery, silks, groceries, specie, hemp and flax, dyes, chemicals, etc. She trades principally with Britain and France. Naples has many employments but few industries, and these insignificant, consisting mainly of woollen, silk, and linen manufactures, gloves, soap, perfumery, jewellery, earthenware, hats, and carriages. Macaroni is largely produced on the Neapolitan seaboard. Fishing supports many of the inhabitants. The neighbourhood is the market-garden of Italy. Pop. (1881) 463,172 ; (1901) 563,540.
Naples owes its foundation to the two Greek settlements of Palœopolis and Neapolis (' Old and New Town'), combined in Parthenope. In 328 B.C. it was subdued by Rome, and under the empire became a fashionable resort. It had been held successively by Normans and Hohenstaufens, when the popes conferred the sovereignty of Naples on Charles of Anjou. The Angevine dynasty, expiring in 1435, was succeeded by that of Aragon, which had ruled Sicily from the time of the Sicilian Vespers (1282). The territory of Naples (great part of south Italy) was united to Sicily, forming the kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and till 1707 was governed by Spanish viceroys. Naples was wrested then from Spain by Austria, but in 1735 was given to Don Carlos, third son of Philip V. of Spain, who founded the Bourbon dynasty. In 1789 the troops of the French Republic invaded Naples and converted it into the Parthenopean Republic (1799). A second invasion by Napoleon (1806) ended in the proclamation of his brother, Joseph, as king of Naples ; and, when Joseph assumed the Spanish crown in 1808, that of Naples was awarded to Joachim Murat. On the defeat and execution of Murat in 1815 the Bourbon monarch, Ferdinand IV., was restored. The insurrectionary movements of 1821 and 1848 were the forerunners of the overthrow of the Bourbon rule by Garibaldi and the Sardinians, and the incorporation of Naples in the kingdom of Italy (18(51).