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San Gregorio Armeno

Via San Gregorio Armeno is a street in the historic center of Naples, famous for tourism for the artisan shops of nativity scenes.

 The street that is popularly called San Liguoro, turns out to be one of the typical stenopores of Greek urban architecture which characterizes the entire ancient center of Naples.  As a stenoporos (hinge in Roman town planning), the street served as a link between the two plateiai (from greek: plateia piazza): the main plateia (now via dei Tribunali) and the lower one (today Spaccanapoli).  The two main streets of ancient Neapolis were therefore joined perpendicularly by this street, at the height of the Basilica of San Paolo Maggiore, where the agora stood.

 About halfway, stands the historic church of San Gregorio Armeno founded around 930 on the foundations of the ancient temple of Ceres.  Only in 1205 the church was dedicated to the saint of the same name.

 At the end of Via San Biagio, on the left you can see the church of San Gennaro all’Olmo, managed by the Giambattista Vico foundation (it is no coincidence that the philosopher was baptized here).  Opposite, what is traditionally identified as the domus Ianuaria, that is the house of San Gennaro.  A plaque placed in 1949 mentions this place as the birthplace of the saint.

 The crib tradition of St. Gregory Armenian has a remote origin: in the street in classical times there was a temple dedicated to Ceres, to which citizens offered small terracotta statuettes, made in nearby shops, as an ex voto. [1]  The birth of the Neapolitan nativity scene is naturally much later and dates back to the end of the eighteenth century.

Today via San Gregorio Armeno is known all over the world as the exhibition center of the craft shops located here that now all year round make statuettes for nativity scenes, both canonical and original (usually every year the most eccentric artisans make statuettes with the features of characters of stringent topicality that perhaps stood out positively or negatively during the year).