Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples. Naples is known internationally for its history, art, architecture, music, and gastronomy, and has played an important political and cultural role both within and beyond the Italian peninsula throughout its 2,800-year existence.
Founded around the 9th century BC as a Greek colony, Naples is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Originally named Parthenope and later Neápolis (English: New City), it was among the foremost cities of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the merging of Greek culture into Roman society. Naples eventually became part of the Roman Republic as a major cultural centre; the prominent Latin poet, Virgil, received part of his education in the city and later resided in its environs. As a microcosm of European history, the city has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous civilizations, each leaving traces in its art and architecture. Although many Greek and Roman ruins are in evidence in Naples and its surroundings, the most prominent forms of architecture now visible derive from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods.
Between 1282 and 1816, Naples was the capital city of a kingdom that bore its name - the Kingdom of Naples. Then, in union with Sicily, it became the capital of the Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861. During the Neapolitan War of 1815, Naples strongly promoted Italian unification. Naples historic city centre is the largest in Europe, covering 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres), and is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Over the course of its long history, Naples has been the capital of duchies, kingdoms, and one Empire, and has consistently been a major cultural centre with a global sphere of influence, particularly during the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras. In the immediate vicinity of Naples are numerous sites of great cultural and historical significance, including the Palace of Caserta and the Roman ruins of Pompeii, and Herculaneum.