Castel Nuovo - Maschio Angioino
There are few places in Napoli that are as recognisable as the Castel Nuovo in the heart of the city. The fortress was built when the French Angevins settled in the city in order to express their power through new constructions. King Charles I of Naples commissioned the castle and gave the job of designing it to the architect Pierre de Chaules. It was started in 1279 and completed in 1284. Due to war, the new castle remained uninhabited until 1285, when Charles died and was succeeded by his son, Charles II. He was followed by his son Robert, who added the Palatina Chapel with decorations by Giotto, now lost (the presence of the artist in Napoli is recorded between 1329 and 1331). When the Angevin kingdom was defeated by the Spanish Aragon family, the fortress was badly damaged. Alphonse of Aragon modified and restored the castle after his triumphal entrance in the city. Testimony to this event is the stunning Triumphal Arch at the entrance, one of the most eminent works of Renaissance art in southern Italy. Many architects and sculptors from all over Italy and Spain came to decorate the arch. It was a symbol of Aragonese power (Donatello as well was called but he wasn't able to commit).
Alphonse also hired Catalan workers who made changes to the castle in order to give more strength to the structure internally and externally, like the tower faced in volcanic piperno stone. The only two parts that maintain their original appearance are the Palatina chapel and the wonderful Hall of the Barons. This hall is a real gem inside the fortress. The architect Gullermo Sagrera changed the old ceiling and turned it into a unique rib vault with a large oculo opening at the top. The Hall is named after the episode in which king Ferrante, the illegitimate successor of Alphonse, captured and killed all the barons who had conspired against him.
After the Aragon family, the fortress was almost abandoned until the 1850s when it became property of the city and turned into administrative offices. Today the Castel Nuovo houses the Civic Museum on the first floor with all the documented history of the fortress and the Palatine chapel with some of Giotto's frescoes. In the north wing there is the Società Napoletana di Storia Patria (Neapolitan Society of Italian History) and the Historic Archive, with an extraordinary collection of over 30,000 volumes, magazines, historical books, prints and drawings.
The castle is also a venue for many events and in particular for civil weddings
Today, around the castle there is scaffolding and endless works of digging. This is because when the works for the metro started in piazza Municipio, workers found entire medieval boats buried in the ground. The present piazza Municipio was the port during the Kingdom of Charles II of Anjou. It was the Spanish viceroy don Pedro of Toledo that created a large square and the port moved to where it is now. The discovery of the medieval vessels delayed the works for the metro. Controversy surrounds the conservation: where and how to move the huge ships. All the other artefacts found during the works are now permanently exhibited inside the metro station at the Museo stop.
Official website: Castel Nuovo - Maschio Angioino
Via Vittorio Emanuele III - 80133 Napoli
Tel.: +39 081 79 57 708 – 081 79 57 709
Tickets: € 6 / Concessions with Artecard: € 3 / Free entry under 18.
Sundays free entry to visit the courtyard, Palatine Chapel, Baron's Hall, Armoury Hall and the Lodge Hall.
Opening hours: Mon - Sat 09.00 - 19.00.
Nearest metro station: Linea 1 - MUNICIPIO or Funicolare Centrale from Piazza Fuga to AUGUSTEO stop and then walk to piazza Municipio for 7 minutes.
Here there is the Alibus stop for and to Capodichino Airport. Just behind the castle there is the port Molo Beverello.