A real journey into the cult of the
"purgatory souls"

Purgatorio ad Arco

"Pezzentele" Souls Church
In the heart of the ancient center of Naples, along via dei Tribunali, there is the Church of Santa Maria delle Anime in Purgatory in Arco, known to the Neapolitan people as the church "de '' e cape 'e morte" (the head of dead). Crossing the threshold begins a real journey in the Neapolitan culture between art, faith, life, death. From the small and beautiful church of the '600, which preserves the precious marble and winged skull of Dionisio Lazzari, together with masterpieces by Massimo Stanzione, Luca Giordano and Andrea Vaccaro, we descend into the ancient and grandiose hypogeum (the underground church) that still hosts the fascinating worship aimed at anonymous human remains that become special intermediaries for invocations, prayers, requests for intercessions. A small museum set up in the elegant sacristy completes the itinerary.

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The Church

The worshipping of the souls of the Purgatory was one of the most important rituals of the counter-reformed church and the whole decorative apparatus of the Complex was conceived to remember, to visitors and faithfuls, that the souls of dead people were waiting for a prayer to be freed from the flames of the Purgatory and to be accepted in Heaven. The façade, the decoration of the church and of the Sacristy, the liturgical paraments recall the theme of the Purgatory; the whole iconographic project was dedicated to the theme of death by 1600s works of art: the Saint Joseph Transit (1650-51) by Andrea Vaccaro, located in the third left chapel; the Death of Saint Alessio (1661), one of the first masterpieces by Luca Giordano, in the third right chapel. Right above the main altar is located the beautiful painting by Massimo Stanzione The Madonna of the Purgatory Souls (1638-1642). Right below Stanzione’s painting there was the marble Winged Skull by Dioniso Lazzari, today located behind the altar. Above the triumph arch there is the Sant’Anna offers the Virgin to the Lord (1670) by Giacomo Farelli and, in the first left chapel, San Michele who defeats the Devil (1650) by Girolamo De Magistro.

The museum

The sacristy, Museum and the Oratory of the Immaculate.
The Museum of the Complex is located in the sacristy of the Church and in the Oratory of the Immaculate and it preserves a collection of paintings and artifacts dating to the XVII and XIX century. The collection is an interesting proof of the four hundreds years of existence of the Opera Pia as well as of the Neapolitan society and popular piety. A great variety of objects is exhibited in the museum – silvers, paintings, manuscripts – all made on the account of the Opera Pia. Particularly, among the beautiful 1600s and 1700s paintings, is remarkable a very high quality 1600s copy of the famous painting by Luis de Morales, representing the Virgin of Purity, whose original version is preserved in the convent of San Paolo Maggiore.

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The Underground Church

Through an opening in the floor of the upper church, descending a steep staircase, it is possible to reach a wide space, a real lower church, one of the most well known places in Naples where, still today, is alive the ritual of the worshipping of the poor souls. In the center of the church is located an anonymous tomb, surrounded by black chains and barely enlightened by electric lights. Along the walls small niches, altars and candles witness the old ritual that raised spontaneously in the 1600s. Through a small corridor it is possible to reach the burial ground of the church werethe remains of Lucia, the young soul particularly loved by Neapolitan people, are preserved in a sophisticated and fascinating altar. The dimensions of the lower church are impressive and the choice to deliberately contrast the decorative richness of the upper church with the austerity of the lower space is clear. As it has been proven by archive documents, the idea of including an underground church was conceived already in the first project of construction of the church. In fact, since the 1600s workshops and storage rooms located in the area were bought in order to have enough space for a burial ground for the members of the Congregation and for poor people. The Lower church has one aisle and a series of side chapels; in the 1700s it was enlarged and covered by a rich decoration made of majolica tiles painted with skulls, bones and flowers, made by the artisan Giuseppe Barberio.

Info

Chiesa, Museo e Ipogeo:
January - March
monday - friday and sunday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Guided Tours:
monday - friday and sunday:
10:30 am, 11:10 am, 11:50 am, 12:30 pm, 1:10 pm;
saturday:
10:30 am, 11:15 am, 12:00 pm, 12:45 pm, 2:00 pm, 2:45 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:15 pm.
April - December
monday - saturday 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
sunday 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Guided Tours:
monday - saturday – holidays and sunday with long opening 10:30 am – 11:15 am, 12:00 pm, 12:45 pm, 2:00 pm, 2:45 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:15 pm, 5:00 pm;
sunday 10:30 am, 11:15 am, 12:00 pm, 12:45 pm.
Free entrance to Church
The Underground and the Museum are accessible with guided tour. The visits last about 30 minutes and start at regular intervals.

It is possible to visit the Complex also outside the opening hours.
For information send an email or call.

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Purgatorio ad Arco

“Pezzentele” Souls Church
In the heart of the ancient center of Naples, along via dei Tribunali, there is the Church of Santa Maria delle Anime in Purgatory in Arco, known to the Neapolitan people as the church “de ” e cape ‘e morte” (the head of dead). Crossing the threshold begins a real journey in the Neapolitan culture between art, faith, life, death. From the small and beautiful church of the ‘600, which preserves the precious marble and winged skull of Dionisio Lazzari, together with masterpieces by Massimo Stanzione, Luca Giordano and Andrea Vaccaro, we descend into the ancient and grandiose hypogeum (the underground church) that still hosts the fascinating worship aimed at anonymous human remains that become special intermediaries for invocations, prayers, requests for intercessions. A small museum set up in the elegant sacristy completes the itinerary.

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The Church

Jewel of Neapolitan 1600s art, the construction of the church was commissioned in 1616 by the non religious congregation Opera Pia Purgatorio Ad Arco to the architect Giovan Cola di Franco and it was consecrated in 1638. The building was projected on two levels: an upper church related to the terrestrial world, and a lower church, with a cemetery, related to representations of the Purgatory.


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The museum

The sacristy, Museum and the Oratory of the Immaculate.
The Museum of the Complex is located in the sacristy of the Church and in the Oratory of the Immaculate and it preserves a collection of paintings and artifacts dating to the XVII and XIX century. The collection is an interesting proof of the four hundreds years of existence of the Opera Pia as well as of the Neapolitan society and popular piety.


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The Underground Church

Through an opening in the floor of the upper church, descending a steep staircase, it is possible to reach a wide space, a real lower church, one of the most well known places in Naples where, still today, is alive the ritual of the worshipping of the poor souls.


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Info

Chiesa, Museo e Ipogeo:

January – March monday – friday e sunday  from 10:00 to 2:00 pm saturday dalle 10:00 alle 5:00 pm

Guided Tours:
monday – friday and sunday: 10:30 am 11:10 am, 11:50 am, 12:30 pm, 1:10 pm; saturday: 10:30 am, 11:15 am, 12:00 am, 00:45 pm, 2:00 pm, 2:45 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:15 pm.

April – December
monday – saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm sunday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Guided Tours:
monday – saturday – holiday and sundays with long opening

10:30 am, 11:15 am, 12:00 pm, 12:45 pm, 2:00 pm, 2:45 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:15 pm, 5:00 pm; sunday 10:30 am, 11:15 am, 12:00 pm, 12:45 pm.

 

The museum entrance ticket includes a entry to Upper church (Sacristy, Oratory, Altar) and Hypogeum.

The Underground and the Upper church are accessible also with guided tour.
It is possible to visit the Complex also outside the opening hours. For information send an email or call the numbers above.

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Rates


Single ticket

6 €


Reduced entry

5 €

from 14 to 25 years; group of more than 20 units or single visitors of the Cultural District of Via Duomo, ICOM members, Campania Artecard


Reduced entry for young

3 €

from 7 to 13 years, school children of all levels and grades


Reduced Network EXTRAMANN

4,50 €

(with Mann Ticket)

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