The foundation of Naples and its port unquestionably dates back to the period of Greek colonisation; in the ninth century B.C. a group of sailors from Rhodes reached this part of the coast and, between the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., the Greek colony was founded on the Acropolis of Pizzofalcone.
In 475 B.C. the inhabitants of Cuma founded Neapolis (new city) in the eastern part of the original city. As a mainly military port in Greek and Roman times, the port of Naples gradually became more open to sea traffic and grew in importance.
It was under Norman rule that the port enjoyed a period of great splendour becoming the only one of the Italian marine republics to join the famous Lega della Compagnia, known as the “Hanseatic cities”. The period of Norman rule brought Naples and its port a period of successes in maritime affairs and sea traffic. However, it was with the Anjovins in the second half of the thirteenth century, and in particular during the reign of Charles I of Anjou, that the port expanded and it acquired new buildings, while the city became the most heavily populated and admired city in Europe. The fortification of the port and the construction of warehouses, storage depots and factories continued under Aragonese rule (fifteenth century) and under the Spanish viceroy.
It was not until the dynasty of the Bourbons (eighteenth century) that the port became established as one of the most well-equipped and strongest in Europe nd the city becam one of the great European capitals alongside Paris and London. Indeed, it was under the Bourbons that the arsenal became an enormous shipyard and the day of September 27 1818 saw the launch of the “Real Ferdiando I”, the first steamship of the Mediterranean.
After 1861, the port of Naples underwent a period of decline. Paradoxically the unification of Italy had a negative effect on the port with its traffic diminishing and its activities undergoing a significant reduction. Revival of its importance took place at the beginning of the twentieth century as a result of the efforts of Francesco Saverio Nitti and Admiral Augusto Witting.
The period of Fascism saw Naples become the main port for linking Italy to its colonial territories. New infrastructural works were built together with new buildings such as the Harbour station, designed in 1932 by the architect Bazzani. After the Second World War, the port of Naples became the setting for a terrible mass exodus of thousands of Italians who left Naples in search of their fortune in America.