In Greek mythology, Naples (Napoli) was built where the Siren Parthenope was washed ashore after Odysseus had rejected her. Greek colonists, perhaps from Rhodes may have founded a colony at this point as early as the 10th century BC, but this too may be the stuff of legend.
What is certain is that by the 8th century BC, Greeks from Cumae built a new city nearby, calling it Neapolis (new city), while the original town was renamed Palaeopolis, or old city. Neapolis was a leading commercial center and the Greek language and customs survived even during the Roman period, when it was a favorite area of the elite.
Neapolis came into contact with the growing power of Rome during the latter's protracted wars with the Samnites, and in the 4th century BC, the citizens agreed to become an "allied city" of Rome.
Although not much is left of the Greco-Roman Neapolis, some traces are visible in Piazza Bellini, around Santa Chiara.
In 79 AD an erupting Vesuvius buried a number of ancient Roman cities, including Pompeii. The Roman houses in Pompeii are among the best-preserved examples of Roman civilization in Campania.
This complex heritage, from ancient Greeks and Romans to the dukes, kings, and queens of the Middle Ages and beyond, has contributed to a rich store of galleries and museums, ancient amphitheaters and ruins, as well as churches, monasteries, royal palaces, and monuments.