I am always searching for more light and space” 

the exhibition

The exhibition on Santiago Calatrava—architect, engineer, painter, sculptor draughtsman, all-around artist—arrives to Naples at the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte with four-hundred works, including sculptures, drawings, and models. Calatrava is a restless spirit always in search of a balance between volume and light, the two essential elements of his concept of architecture

The exhibition at Capodimonte, split between the Museum’s second floor and the Cellaio building of the Real Bosco, reinforces the exhibition’s title—Santiago Calatrava: In the Light of Naples—but also the artist’s love for the city, a city that can be probably called a cradle and an entrance to the Mediterranean, a crossroads of diverse cultures and civilizations. The exhibition is curated by Sylvain Bellenger, the director of the Museo and Real Bosco di Capodimonte, and Robertina Calatrava, wife of the artist. It is supported by the Campania Region with the help of funds from the European Research Council’s Proof of Concept Complementary Operational Program 2014-2020. The exhibition is organized by Scabec, the regional society of cultural heritage, and executed in collaboration with the Calatrava Studio.

santiago calatrava

Santiago Calatrava was born in 1951 in Benimàmet, not far from Valencia, Spain, and began his formal instruction in drawing and painting at the age of eight at the Arts and Crafts School. In 1968, he enrolled in the Polytechnic University of Valencia, where he earned a degree in architecture and took a postgraduate course in urbanism. In 1979, he earned a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, where he also met his wife, Robertina, with whom he has four children.

He opened his first studio in Zurich in 1981, and two years later he won his first design competition, for the Stadelhofen Railway Station in the same city. His international reputation for bridge building was established in 1984 when he won the competition to design and build the Bach de Roda Bridge, commissioned for the Olympic Games in Barcelona. In 1991, Calatrava won the design competition to complete the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. In 1992 he built the Alamillo Bridge over the Guadalquivir river in Seville for the Expo and, in the same year, the Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona. Other major projects include the railway station of Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport (1989–94), the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, the acclaimed expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum in Wisconsin (2001), the Tenerife Auditorium in Santa Cruz, Canary Islands (2003); the Athens Olympic Sports Complex in Greece (2004); and the “Turning Torso” residential tower in Malmö, Sweden (2005)

Calatrava also designed the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, called the Oculus, which was inaugurated in 2016 at the site of Ground Zero in New York and has become a symbol of the city’s rebirth after 9/11. In Italy, Calatrava executed what is the fourth ever bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice (1999-2008)—the Ponte della Costituzione—as well as the Madiopadana Station (2002-2014) and the so-called “three bridges” in Reggio Emilia (20022007), and the Saint Francis of Paola Bridge in Cosenza (2002-2018). In February 2005, he was awarded the American Institute of Architect’s gold medal, the year in which the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York held a monographic exhibition on the artist. Calatrava has also enjoyed retrospectives at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (2012), and the Vatican Museum (2013). In 2011 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Culture, and in 2019 Pope Francis appointed him a member of the Pontifical Academy of the Virtuous.

santiago calatrava in italy

Reggio Emilia Ponti
Reggio Emila - Reggio Emilia Ponti (2002-2007)

In October, 2007, an ensemble of three bridges designed by Calatrava was inaugurated in Reggio nellà Emilia, near Bologna in Italy. These bridges are the first phase of a larger project, which will includes a new high-speed railway station and other infrastructure improvement program. Plans for the bridges originated in 2002 when the city of Reggio Emilia invited Calatrava to design a new train station “Stazione Mediopadana” for the TAV (Treno Alta Velocità ) highspeed railway line between Milan and Bologna. In addition, he was also commissioned to create a master plan for the city’s outskirt — a fragmented area called Mancasale —, to improve vehicular access and provide an impressive new gateway from the north.

Ponte sul Crati
Cosenza - Ponte sul Crati (2000-2018)

To accommodate this difficult site, Calatrava suggested a cable-stayed bridge with a single inclined pylon rising above the urban surroundings. The steel main bridge deck itself spans over the river Crati, connecting Via Sant’Antonio dell’Orto/Contrada Gergeri with Via Reggio Calabria. The concrete side span in over passing the two tracks railway.

Stazione Mediopadana
Reggio Emilia - Stazione Mediopadana (2002-2004) Photo © Burg / Schuh

Reggio nell’Emilia, the capital of the Emilia Romagna Province is today a progressive and prosperous city situated on Italy’s northern flat plain ‘Padana’. In 2002, the City of Reggio Emilia contracted Calatrava to create a new gateway to Reggio Emilia from the north. The program includes a new high-speed train station ‘Stazione di Bologna e Reggio Emilia AV Mediopadana’, a comprehensive master plan including bridges, a highway toll station and other infrastructure improvements that will facilitate access to the city. The three new bridges were inaugurated in 2007. Situated four kilometers north to the city center, the new Mediopadana Station will be the only stop for the Milano-Bologna high-speed railway line. As the city’s urban hub for various local and regional public transports, the new station will be a true transporation hub connecting the city with the rest of the world.

Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata
Roma - Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata (2005) Photo © Heinrich Helfenstein; gta archive / ETH Zürich

Calatrava’s master plan for the campus — conceived with conscious reference to the Circus Maximus — is designed as a long promenade, bordered along its entire length by a double row of cypresses. The new Sports City at one end and the Rectorate of Tor Vergata University at the other end. A large urban park linking the University and the Sports City will become a forum for meetings, social and cultural events. Other buildings to be developed later will ultimately line the avenue and provides accommodations for students and houses new university faculties. The Sports City, to be developed in an area close to the Torrenova with access to the Rome- Naples highway, comprised of two symmetrically arranged identical fan-shaped pavilions and a series of external infrastructure works to complete and complement the development.

Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande
Venezia - Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande (1996-2008) Photo © Burg / Schuh, Palladium Photodesign

No other city in the world has so many large and small bridges as does Venice. The addition of one more should not cause much of an impression — except that the construction of a new pedestrian bridge over the Grand Canal, only the fourth to be built since the 16th century, is clearly a national and international event. In November 1999, Santiago Calatrava was commissioned to design this new bridge. The project is sited at an extremely strategic point, connecting the railway station with the Piazzale Roma. The bridge is important both functionally and symbolically, giving visitors their first impressions of Venice and providing a panoramic view of the Grand Canal.


The visit to the exhibition is included in the Museum Ticket
€ 10 full
€ 2 subscribers San Carlo, holders CartaFRECCIA and holders Carta Feltrinelli
€ 2 reduced (18-25 anni)
free 0-18 years and holders campania artecard

The ticket entitles you to visit the Cellar on opening day

Museum – second floor

Sculpture, Painting, Architecture
Open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday
from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
Closed on Wednesday

Cellar – Royal Park

open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm
closed from Monday to Tuesday

how to reach us

The Museo and the Real Bosco di Capodimonte is just a few minutes from the historic center in via Miano 2 – 80131, Naples
The Shuttle Capodimonte provides tourists with easy access to the Museum and the Royal Park from the city center.
From Piazza Trieste and Trento in just 22 minutes with departures every hour.

– from the highway:
take the Tangential Route, Capodimonte exit

– from Naples Central Station:
Line 1 of the subway, Museo stop; then continues on the bus*
Line 2 of the subway, Piazza Cavour; then continues on the bus*

– dal City Centre:
bus*: stop in Piazza Museo (next to the National Archaeological Museum), lines:
168 e 178 (stop Porta Piccola, via Miano);
C63 (stop Porta Grande, via Capodimonte);
R4 (stop Viale Colli Aminei, far about 200 metres from Porta Piccola)