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Though the cathedral was established in the 1200s, the building you see was erected a century later and has since undergone radical changes—especially during the baroque period. Inside, 110 ancient columns salvaged from pagan buildings are set into the piers that support the 350-year-old wooden ceiling. Off the left aisle you step down into the 4th-century church of Santa Restituta, which was incorporated into the cathedral. Though Santa Restituta was redecorated in the late 1600s in the prevalent baroque style, a few very old mosaics remain in the Battistero (Baptistery).
On the right aisle of the cathedral, in the Cappella del Tesoro di San Gennaro, are multicolor marbles and frescoes honoring Saint Januarius, the miracle-working patron saint of Naples, whose altar and relics are encased in silver. Three times a year—on September 19 (his feast day); on the Saturday preceding the first Sunday in May, which commemorates the transfer of his relics to Naples; and on December 16—his dried blood, contained in two sealed vials, is believed to liquefy during rites in his honor. On these days large numbers of devout Neapolitans offer up prayers in his memory. The Museo del Tesoro di San Gennaro houses a rich collection of treasures associated with the saint. Paintings by Solimena and Luca Giordano hang alongside statues, busts, candelabras, and tabernacles in gold, silver, and marble by Cosimo Fanzago and other 18th-century baroque masters.
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