The Piazza del Plebiscito is the largest square in Naples and one of the largest open squares in Europe. It is a central gathering place for both residents and tourists of the city. The somewhat odd name of the Piazza is named for the plebiscite (a national referendum of sorts) that was taken in 1860 that unified the Kingdom of Italy under the House of Savoy. Before this had taken place, the city of Naples existed as a separate entity outside the Kingdom of Italy.
There are a wide variety of sights near Piazza del Plebiscito, including the Santa Croce di Palazzo, the Palazzo Reale, and the Museo Artistico Industriale, as well as a wonderful selection of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. If you are traveling to Naples, you will have trouble not encountering this gigantic square. Many people find themselves at the Piazza del Plebiscito as a starting point for a variety of tours, or to purchase tickets for local attractions and events. There are also public concerts and events that take place here as well.
Murat, brother-in-law of Napoleon, was the man who conceived of the plans for the Piazza in the early part of the nineteenth century. He meant it to serve as a grand tribute to the emperor Napoleon. This was not how history played out, however, as Napoleon was removed from power and the Bourbons regained control. Ferdinand I saw to the completion of the project to the size and scope that we generally see today. It was Ferdinand I who dedicated the Piazza del Plebiscito to Saint Francis of Paola, who stayed in the monastery during the sixteenth century. There are two major landmarks that flank the largest square in Naples. The Royal Palace lies to the east of the Piazza del Plebiscito, while the Church of San Francesco di Paola lies to the west.
The spectacular colonnades extend from the center of the Piazza in either direction to the Royal Palace and the Church of San Francesco di Paola. The Church of San Francesco di Paola often draws comparisons to the Pantheon in Rome. The façade of the church features a portico with two Ionic pillars and six formidable columns. There are two amazing chapel contained within the church. The dome, frescoes, artwork, statuary, and altars are all beautiful aspects of this wonderful church.
This is not only the largest square in Naples, but also the starting point for most tourists in the city. Within close range, you will find an extensive selection of interesting and exciting sights near Piazza del Plebiscito. The Palazzo Reale is a perfect example of one of the most alluring sights in Naples being within a few steps of the Piazza. Construction of the palace was completed in 1600 and it used to serve as the national library. The Galleria Umberto, one of the top shopping destinations in the city, can also be accessed with great ease, being less than a half-mile from the Piazza del Plebiscito. Other popular sights near Piazza del Plebiscito include the legendary Teatro San Carlo, Santa Lucia a Mare, and the Naples National Archaeological Museum.