215 – Naples Archaeological Museum

My birthday falls just before Christmas and as my special treat I chose to go to Naples. Despite having explored Pompeii on more than one occasion, and also Herculaneum, I had never had the opportunity of seeing central Napoli. An Italian friend recommended that it would be better to drive to Naples, although I had been contemplating taking the train from Formia Station.

We set off, having entered the details of Naples Archaeological Museum into our SatNav. As we entered the centre of the city we got a real taste of driving in this metropolis. We found it difficult to follow some of the SatNav’s directions and ended up getting a little lost which was somewhat disconcerting. Whilst trying to find our way, Paul found that he had to keep his wits about him, due to the volume and frenetic pace of the traffic. Of course Napolitan drivers rarely use their indicators to forewarn others of their intentions and Vespas zip chaotically amidst the surging flow. It was basically a free for all – indeed driving in Naples is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Eventually we managed to get back onto the right track and we finally succeeded in finding our way to the Museum. The gods must have been smiling on us, as we were very fortunate to find a parking spot just opposite the museum.


Museo Archeologico Nazionale is one of the most noteworthy archaeological museums in the world.  The building itself, was originally constructed as a cavalry barracks, before being converted to house the centre of the University of Naples in 1612. The Bourbon Spanish King, Charles III, established the museum in the 18th century and subsequently the building was extended to accommodate a prize collection of Roman statues, that he had inherited from the Farnese family of Parma. These are now known as the Farnese Collection.

The museum is of a considerable size, so we opted to concentrate on viewing the Roman section which contains a multitude of interesting artifacts that were buried by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.  We commenced on the first floor, a section which houses frescoes that once adorned the homes of wealthy Romans who lived under the shadow of the volcano.


Fresco of Bacchus Wearing a Bunch of Grapes and Mount Vesuvius


Fresco of Lares and Genius – Scene of a Sacrifice


Fresco of Mars and Venus – found at Pompeii


Fresco of Io being watched by Argo – from the House of Meleager, Pompeii


Fresco of Onfale and Hercules – from Pompeii


Detail of a fresco of Iphigenia in Tauris – House of L. Caecilius Giocondus, Pompeii


Fresco of Hercules carrying his son Hyllus and the Centaur Nessus

Then we moved on to the mezzanine floor, to a section housing many fine Roman Mosaics.  I was astounded by their intricate detail and the artistic skill of the  mosaicists. Here are some of my favourites …


Mosaic of a Cockfight – from Pompeii


Mosaic of Choirmasters and Actors – from Pompeii


Mosaic of Musicians – from Pompeii


Mosaic of Doves – from Pompeii


Mosaic of a Cat with a Partridge, Ducks, Fish and Shellfish – From the House of the Faun, Pompeii


Fish Mosaic – from the House of the Faun, Pompeii


Mosaic Memento Mori – from Pompeii


Mosaic of a Tragic Mask – from the House of the Faun, Pompeii

Also located on this floor is what has become known as the “Secret Room”. Here there is a collection of Roman erotic or sexual items mostly excavated from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Next we moved to the ground floor which holds the Farnese Collection of statues. There is a long room which contains busts and statues of several of the Roman Emperors.



Emperor Hadrian


Emperor Julius Caesar


Emperor Marcus Aurelius


Emperor Domitian


Emperor Tiberius


Emperor Claudius


Julius Caesar

The Farnese Collection also contains many wonderful marble statues of mythological characters. Many of these magnificent works of art are in fact Roman copies of classical Greek sculptures. Some are colossal in size.


Atlas carrying the globe




Apollo seated with a lyre


Hercules from the thermal baths of Caracalla, Rome


Statue of Pomona or Flor Minor



Paul standing next to the statue of Lare Farnese – from the baths of Caracalla, Rome


The magnificent statue of the Farnese Bull, carved out of a single piece of marble – from the thermal baths at Caracalla, Rome


A detail of the statue of the Farnese Bull

Being a lover of canines,  I absolutely adored these Roman statues of dogs dating from 1st / 2nd century AD.





A carved lion next to the museum’s grand staircase


Detail of an equestrian statue of Marcus Nonius Balbus, patron of the city of Herculaneum

The museum also contains an array of other Roman artifacts such as bronze statutes, ceramics, glassware, vases, engraved copper and  gems, parchments, tools and implements, coins, and sarcophagi to name but a few.  The basement holds the Borgia Collection of Egyptian relics and epigraphs.

The museum is open 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. everyday, except Tuesday. Ticket information

All photos by me © Louise Shapcott

You can see more of my photos of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli here on Flickr


#trecancelle #naples #napoli #museum #archeaology #museo #roman #mosaics #frescoes #farnesecollection


 Tre Cancelle Farmhouse Apartments Near Sperlonga and Itri


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