Piazza del Plebiscito, formerly known as Largo di Palazzo, is a beautiful large square in Naples, with an area of about 25,000 square meters, bordered at one end by the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace) and at the other by the Basilica of San Francesco di Paola.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the Palazzo Reale was built by the architect Domenico Fontana, who turned the palace facade towards an open space, which will be known as Largo di Palazzo. The space became the vital center of the city and, at the same time, a very important public representation area.
When the viceroy settled in the Royal Palace, the square did not have an adequate conformation, and the side of Largo facing the sea was embellished with various sculptural elements, including a majestic three-arched fountain designed by Pietro Bernini and Michelangelo Naccherino, and a colossal bust of Jupiter found in Pozzuoli, named Gigante di Palazzo.
At the end of the 18th century, Palazzo Salerno was built on a project by Francesco Sicuro for Ferdinand IV of Naples, changing somehow the appearance of the square.
Only at the beginning of the 19th century, during the Napoleonic period, the square will completely change. The new king, Joachim Murat, in the wake of the vast urban renewals that were involving France and Europe, decided to create a geometrically well-defined square.
After the law of 7 August 1809, which ordered the suppression of monasteries throughout the Kingdom of Naples, the convents in the area were demolished and the Piazza del Plebiscito was enlarged from 9,000 square meters to about 23,000. In 1809, the works on the square began under the supervision of the architect Leopoldo Laperuta. The square was to be called Foro Gioacchino.
With the re-establishment on the throne of Naples of King Ferdinand IV, the works for the Foro Gioacchino were abruptly interrupted. King Ferdinand decided to build a Christian church dedicated to the Saint Francesco di Paola and, for the construction of the church, a new competition was announced, won by the architect Pietro Bianchi. In the square, Bianchi placed two equestrian statues, of Charles III and Ferdinand of Bourbon, by Antonio Canova. Piazza di San Francesco di Paola was solemnly inaugurated in 1846.
The current name of the square was chosen after the plebiscite of 21 October 1860, which decreed the annexation of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies to the Kingdom of Sardinia.
In 1963, a municipal ordinance transformed the square into a public parking lot to cope with the increasing number of cars in the city, and only in 1994 the square was given back to pedestrians.
HOW TO GET THERE
There is a bus station in almost every corner of the square (Piazza Carolina, Trieste e Trento and Solitaria), and in each of these stations the bus E6 stops. The closest subway station is Municipio, at about 550 meters away, on the Metro Line 1. If you would like to find the square on foot, use the map below.