One of three historic entrances built into the Lecce’s ancient city walls, Porta Napoli was completed in 1548 after a commission by the Habsburg Emperor Charles V to fortify the city. Because of this funding, Lecce honored the Emperor by decorating the Porta Napoli with the Habsburg family emblem, still visible on the pediment.
Today, Porta Napoli is a stop on many Lecce walking tours that take in the city’s rich architectural heritage, together with its baroque cathedral (Duomo), Basilica di Santa Croce, and Chiesa di Santa Chiara. In addition to its architecture, the city of Lecce is known for its local cuisine and traditional papier-mâché—many sightseeing tours also include food tastings or a papier-mâché workshop.
Things to know before you go
*Fans of ancient Roman architecture will be particularly taken with this elegant city gate inspired by the Classical style. *There are a number of shaded benches in the square facing the arch, perfect for taking a break from sightseeing in the hottest hours of the day. *The city of Lecce can be scorching in the summer months, so be sure to protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunscreen if joining an outdoor walking tour. *Porta Napoli is surrounded by a vast paved square, making it easily accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to get there
Porta Napoli is located in Lecce’s Piazzetta Arco di Trionfo on the northwestern edge of the historic center; the train station and most famous sights and attractions located in central Lecce are all an easy walk away. Lecce is the most important rail, bus, and highway hub on Puglia’s Salento Peninsula, though the closest airport and cruise terminal are in Brindisi, 25 miles (40 km) to the north.
When to get there
Porta Napoli doesn’t have open hours and is easy to admire at any time of day. Lecce can get uncomfortably hot during midday in the summer season, so stop by first thing in the morning or in the late afternoon. The arch is lit at night, so is particularly photogenic after sunset.