The National Railway Museum at Pietrarsa illustrates the history of Italy's railways. In fact the buildings housing the Museum were once the pavilions of the Royal Mechanical, Pyrotechnical and Locomotives Factory founded in 1840 by Ferdinand II, King of the Two Sicilies, near the first stretch of Italian railway, the Naples-Portici line, which was opened on October 3rd 1839.
The introduction of electric and diesel locomotives determined the decline of steam engines and the workshops were converted into a railway museum, inaugurated in 1989.
The Museum extends over an area of 36 thousand square metres, situated between Vesuvius and the sea, and is now a fascinating, prestigious site after extensive redevelopment between 2014 and 2017. The architectural details of the nineteenth century pavilions have been restored and the external spaces embellished with the planting of a Mediterranean Garden, with plants from all over the world, and a new glass parapet for the seafront terrace, offering unique views over the Gulf of Naples. Modern technology also plays an important role in the new life of the museum: with a cinema, a congress hall and interactive facilities for visitors, using virtual reality systems and apps, making Pietrarsa one of the most important railway museums in Europe.
Species from every area in the world with a Mediterranean climate can be admired between the pavilions containing valuable collections of historic carriages. There are five separate spaces organised into geographical areas: the Mediterranean basin, Australia, California, Chile and South Africa. Shrubs and herbaceous perennials typical of the Mediterranean and South Africa, palms, succulents and cactus species from Chile, as well as majestic Australian bushes, all grow in an enchanted place where the glorious history of Italian railways is conserved.