This inconspicuous chapel located in a tiny alley around the corner from San Domenico Maggiore in Centro Storico is perhaps one of the best known attractions in the city, and one of the most difficult to find. The modern ticket office installed a few doors down (with a new price tag to match) has done little to help, but regardless, few visitors leave Naples without having made their pilgrimage to the Sansevero Chapel.
Built in the 17th century, this family chapel was completely restyled in the mid 18th century by Prince Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero VII. A nobleman, freemason, inventor, alchemist, scientist, and patron of the arts, the Prince called on the most important artists of his day to embellish the chapel. Working to his exacting standards, the result was as complex, elaborate, and multifaceted as the man who designed it himself.
The chapel’s most prized asset, and the reason most visitors persevere until they find it, is the Veiled Christ. A marble masterpiece, it was conceived of by the eccentric Prince, designed by the Venetian sculptor Antonio Corradini, and re-imagined and carried out by a relatively unknown Neapolitan artist, Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753. Two and a half centuries later, nothing else compares.
Its location at the centre of the chapel however, is not where the Prince envisioned it would go. It was to be situated in the underground chamber, which instead houses two Anatomical Machines, made by Doctor Giuseppe Salerno in 1763-64.