Castel Nuovo ( New Castle)
Also known as the Maschio Angioino, this Angevin forte was built for Charles of Anjou in 1279-82. This castle was built towards the end of the 13th century on the instructions of the Anjou family, and became an important cultural center where artists and writers such as Giotto, Petrarca and Boccaccio stayed.
The Aragon dynasty expanded the building with two towers and a fantastic Arc de Triomphe. However, apart from the squat towers and the Capella Palatina (with Francesco Laurana's Madonna of 1474 above the portal), most of the structure is Aragonese. The castle was once the main royal residence. The original bronze doors by Guilaume le Moine (1468) are kept in the Palazzo Reale. Part of the building houses the Museo Civico. The Cappella Palatina chapel is also worth visiting.
Piazza Municipio, Toledo, Naples, Italy.
The founder of the Angevin dynasty, Charles I d'Anjou, built this fortress, known from its beginning, in 1279, as the “new castle” (to differentiate it from the Castel dell'Ovo and the Castel Capuano). Under his successor, Robert the Wise, it became a center of culture, with the castle library attracting such luminaries as Petrarch and Boccaccio. Alfonso d'Aragona took up residence here when he conquered Naples in 1443 and marked his rule with a fairly complete rebuilding, including the five defensive towers now visible and, especially, the impressive marble Arco di Trionfo at the entrance. This highly important work of the first Renaissance (1443-68) consciously takes its inspiration from ancient Roman triumphal arches, recombining the elements, however, in a completely innovative composition of two superimposed arches so as to fit the tall, narrow space. In the Sala dei Baroni, Ferdinand I of Aragon brutally suppressed the ringleaders of the Baron's Revolt of 1486. The Aragonese was capable of acts of terror, but they were also inspired patrons of arts. The triumphal arch of the castle's entrance (begun 1454) is theirs. Commemorating Alfonso of Aragon's entry to Naples in 1443, this ingenious application of the ancient triumphal arch design was worked on, at least in a part, by Laurana. Palatine Chapel
Across the imposing courtyard is the Palatine Chapel, one of the few remaining structures of the Angevin Palace, its austere facade graced by a portal with delicate relief's and a Madonna by Francesco Laurana (1474). Decorated inside by Giotto and his friends in the 14th century, the frescoes are now reduced to a few fragments, none of which can be attributed to the master. The chapel now houses paintings from the 14th Century through the early 16th centuries and graceful sculptures by Laurana and Domenico Gagini. Sala dell'Armeria
Next to the Palatine chapel in the left corner is the Sala dell'Armeria, the Armory, where part of the flooring has been glassed over to reveal the remains of a Roman villa and a medieval necropolis. Sala dei Baroni
Above the Armeria, with access up a long ramp of steps, is the current Naples city council chamber, the “Sala dei Baroni”, or Hall of the Barons, built for Alfonso by the Majorcan architect Guglielmo Sagrera in 1446-54. Its simple volume is topped with a late-Gothic Moorish-inspired octagonal star vault whose ribs, in gray piperno, provide a harmonious accent to the yellow-tufa walls. The hall gets its name from a famous party held here in 1486, when Ferdinand I of Aragon invited a number of troublesome, powerful lords to dinner and then had them arrested and executed. Museo Civico
The rest of the public space of the castle houses the Museo Civico, which holds an interesting, low-key collection of painting and sculpture, especially strong in 19th-century landscapes with views of a lost or transformed Naples, but also with some nice 17th-century paintings and the bronze doors that Ferrante commissioned from William the Monk in 1475 to record his victory over John d'Anjou.
Castel Nuovo (New Castle) Excursion
Castel dell’Ovo ( Egg Castle )
rises upon the islet of Megaride, in front of the small promontory of Monte Echia (also called Pizzofalcone), which divides the two small bays on the waterfront of Naples: the one of the harbor and the other of Riviera di Chiaia (Mergellina).
It was first built and occupied by the Frederick II, but later the Angevins, the Aragonese, the French, and the Spanish. The inner and higher parts of the castle are reachable through the Norman Ramp, which is still today the main way of access. It is possible to visit only some areas of the castle, and particularly the panoramic terrace with the Catalan Loggia.
Via Caracciolo - Borgo Marinaro, Naples 80133, Italy.
The name Castel dell'Ovo is derived from a medieval legend about the Latin poet Vergilius, at those times believed a wizard. Many believe the name, Castel dell'Ovo, is due to its unusual shape (“ovo” meaning “egg”); however, others maintain that the name is linked to medieval legend. Apparently the poet Virgil hid an egg in an iron cage and left it to hang from a rafter in a secret place within the castle; if the egg is broken, both the castle and the city are doomed to destruction.
The islet was the first settlement by Greek colonists coming from Pithecusa (on Ischia Island) who also founded the old town of Partenope on Monte Echia, the earliest nucleus of Naples. During the 1st century B.C. the islet of Megaride became property of Lucius Licinius Lucullus, who built his most magnificent villa there. Very few signs of this legendary villa remain, because of the several constructions made upon it in the following times.
After the death of Lucullus, the villa came under the Empire property and it was used as luxury prison for some exponents of the Emperor's family, during the numerous conspirations and succession fights for the throne of Rome. In 476 the Barbarian king Odoacre imprisoned there the last emperor Romulus Augustus, ratifying the definitive fall of the West Roman Empire. After that, Naples had been a Byzantine duchy for some centuries, under formal domain by the East Roman Empire, but with a substantial independence. Then the islet of Megaride housed a friary of Basileus monks, dedicated to Il Salvatore (the Savior). From that period remain some tracks inside the Savior's Chapel and in the so-called Sala delle Colonne (Columns' Hall), a refectory decorated with some columns taken by the underlying Roman villa.
The Castel The inner and higher zone of the castle is reachable through the Norman Ramp, which is still today the main way of access. It is possible to visit only some areas of the castle, and particularly the panoramic terrace with the Catalan Loggia.
Legends of the Castel dell'Ovo The poet Virgil hid an egg in an iron cage and left it to hang from a rafter in a secret place within the castle; legend has it that if the egg breaks, both the castle and the city are doomed to destruction.
Castel dell’Ovo (Egg Castle) Excursion
is on the highest site of the city, on the Sant'Erasmo hill today known as the Vomero hill. Sant'Elmo is the name of both a hill and a fortress in Naples, located near the Certosa di San Martino. Together, the structures overlook Naples and are the most visible landmarks in the city. The name “Sant'Elmo” is from an old 10th-century church, Sant'Erasmo being shortened to “Ermo” and, finally, “Elmo”. The fortress is a star-shaped castle with six ramparts.
The building, whose architectural features from a distance resemble those of the Castel dell'Ovo, was one of the city's fortifications and was used above all to protect it from invasions from the sea.
Largo San Martino, Vomero, Naples, Italy.
Castel Sant'Elmo was built on the orders of Charles of Anjou: its construction, in tuff, was begun in 1329 and completed in 1343 by the work of the architects Tino da Camaino, Atanasio Primario and Francesco di Vito. It was built where the Normans, in 1170, had a fort called Belforte surrounded by rich vegetation.
King Charles V, through the viceroy Pedro de Toledo, completely rebuilt the castle. Spanish architect Pier Luigi Scriba designed the star-shaped plan of the castle. It has witnessed numerous sieges, fierce disputes between the various dominating powers, and repeated popular uprisings, including the now legendary Masaniello revolt of 1647. During the revolution of 1647, so-called “Masaniello's Revolt”, the Spanish viceroy took refuge in the fortress to escape the revolutionaries. Sant'Elmo was also the symbol of the short period of the Neapolitan Republic of 1799. The old fort has risked destruction several times. During the Second World War the Germans had intended to blow it up before they left the city, changing their minds only at the last minute. The fortress has been restored to public use since 1980 and houses the “Bruno Molajoli” Art History museum.
Description of the Castel:
The castle, which has now been restored, having been freed from its use as a military prison, houses exhibitions of art and history and also contains the Molaioli Library of Art and a videotheque which supplies information on all of the city's monuments. The complex also contains the 16th century Church of Sant'Elmo and the Chapel of Santa Maria del Pilar (17th century). From the communication trenches and the Castle's upper square there is an extensive view over the city and Vesuvius, the Neapolitan plain, and the marvelous gulf bounded by Capri and the profile of the Phlegraen islands. Church of St. Erasmo:
It is worthy to visit the Church of St. Erasmo that has a rich floor in maiolica and tile. Behind the altar there is the tomb of Pietro de Toledo, a viceroy's relative and first lord of St. Elmo. In front of the entrance of the church there are the prisons where were imprisoned, among many others: the Princess Giovanna di Capua, Tommaso Campanella, Angelo Carasale the architect of the San Carlo theatre and many revolutionaries: Mario Pagano, Domenico Cirillo, Gennaro Sessa di Cassano, Francesco Pignatelli, the Count Ettore Carafa, Luigia Sanfelice, Pietro Colletta, Carlo Poerio, Silvio Spaventa and many others.
Castle Sant'Elmo Excursion
Cappella San Severo ( Sansevero Chapel)
Also known as the Capella Sansevero de'Sangri or Pietatella is a chapel north to the church of San Domenico Maggiore, in the historic center of Naples, southern Italy. The chapel is more properly named the Chapel of Santa Maria della Pieta, or the Pietatella. It dates back to 1590 when the Sansevero family had a private chapel built in what were then the gardens of the nearby family residence, the Palazzo Sansevero. Definitive form was given to the chapel by Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero.
The chapel houses three idiosyncratic sculptures. These statues are emblematic of the excesses of artifice in late-Baroque. The Veiled Truth (also called Modesty or Chastity) was completed by Antonio Corradini in 1750 as a tomb monument dedicated to Cecilia Gaetani dell'Aquila d'Aragona, mother of Raimondo. A Christ Veiled under a Shroud (also called Veiled Christ), shows the influence of the veiled Modesty, and was completed in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino (1720-1793). The Release from Deception by Francesco Queirolo of Genoa serves as a monument at Raimondo's father.
Via Francesco di Sanctis 19, Spaccanapoli, Naples, Italy.
The chapel was begun in 1590 by Giovan Francesco di Sangro, the result of a vow to be fulfilled if he were cured of a dire illness. He lived for another 14 years, which was good for the building campaign, but the present aspect of the chapel is due to his descendant Raimondo di Sangro, prince of Sansevero, who had it completely redone between 1749 and 1770.
This princely intellectual, mad scientist and inventor was accused of just about everything then considered base: atheism, alchemy, and Freemasonry. The last two are likely: he seems to have been a Grand Master of the Freemasons, and his claim to be able to reproduce the miracle of San Gennaro's blood got him kicked out of the Fraternity of the Treasure of San Gennaro. He left a personal touch in the basement, down the stairs to the right, where two glass cases house a pair of “anatomical machines”, which are astonishing even if fake. Purporting to be an encyclopedic reconstruction of the blood vessels of an adult male and a pregnant female, they are supposedly based on two of the prince's servants, who fell victim to his curiosity when he injected them while still alive with what is conjectured to be a mercury solution that hardened their arteries.
Prince Raimondo is generally credited with the design of the splendid marble-inlay floor; he hired Francesco Maria Russo to paint the ceiling with a Glory of Paradise (1749) and also hired a team of up-and-coming sculptors, whose contributions remain the focal point for most visits here. At the center is Giuseppe Sammartino's remarkable alabaster Veiled Christ (1753), one the most successful and convincing illusions of soft reality crafted from hard stone, depicting the dead Christ lying on pillows under a transparent veil. The artist was only 33 years old when he sculpted this famous work, which was originally meant to be placed in the crypt. It was too good to leave down below with those things; the audacious virtuosity of the clinging drapery showing the wounds underneath is one of the marvels of Neapolitan sculpture. A taste for the outre and extravagant had already been demonstrated by other statues in the chapel, especially Francesco Quierolo's Disillusion, to the right of the altar, with its chisel-defying net making a spectacular transition to empty space. This Genovese sculptor also did the female statue representing Sincerity on the right and the commemorative Altar to St. Odorisio between the two Allegories. Antonio Corradini, who came to Naples from the Veneto region via Rome, is responsible for the allegorical statue to the left of the altar, Veiled Modesty (1751), widely considered his masterpiece; he also sculpted the funerary monument and allegorical figure of Decorum, on the inside of the front wall to the right of the exit. Francesco Celebrano contributed the stunning funerary monument above the front door, with Cecco di Sangro leaping out of his coffin in commemoration of one of his most famous exploits when, having been left for dead; he suddenly reappeared, fully armed, in the thick of the battle.
Cappella San Severo (Sansevero Chapel) Excursion
Castel Capuano (Capuano Castle)
usually known as the Vicaria, at the east end of Via dei Tribunali was a Hohenstaufen and later an Angevin stronghold which has been occupied since 1540 by law courts. It takes its name from the fact that it was at that point in the city walls where the road led out to the city of Capua. The castle is at the east end of via dei Tribunali and until recently housed the Naples Hall of Justice, which has now moved to the new Civic Center, the Centro Direzionale.
Via vincenzo muzj, Naples, Italy.
The structure was built in the 12th century by William I, the son of Roger the Norman, the first monarch of the Kingdom of Naples. It was expanded by Frederick II of Hohenstaufen and became one of his royal palaces. In the 16th century, under the Spanish viceroy ship of Pedro Alvarez de Toledo, all of the cities various legal offices and departments were consolidated here and it became the Hall of Justice known as the “Vicaria” - the basements of which served as a prison. Over the entrance to the castle is still visible the crest of Emperor Charles V, who visited Naples in 1535.
The castle has undergone many restorations, one as recent as 1860, and no longer retains much of its original appearance.
Chapel Sommaria & Court of Appeal:
The most important and interesting environment is the Chapel Sommaria, with decorated walls and stuccoes by Pietro Ruviale in the sixteenth century representing Evangelical Scenes and the Universal Judgment. Interesting is the Room of the Court of Appeal, with eighteenth-century works of Anthonio Cacciapuoti and the Room of the Busts, where there are the busts of the princes of the Forum of Naples.
Castel Capuano (Capuano Castle) Excursions