Castel dell'Ovo

Naples, Italy

Castel dell'Ovo (Egg Castle) is located on the former island of Megaride, now a peninsula, on the Gulf of Naples. The castle's name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation in the Middle Ages as a great sorcerer and predictor of the future. In the legend, Virgil put a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications. Had this egg been broken, the castle would have been destroyed and a series of disastrous events for Naples would have followed.

Roman Era

The Castel dell'Ovo is the oldest standing fortification in Naples. The island of Megaride was where Greek colonists from Cumae founded the original nucleus of the city in the 6th century BC. Its location affords it an excellent view of the Naples waterfront and the surrounding area. In the 1st century BC the Roman patrician Lucius Licinius Lucullus built the magnificent villa Castellum Lucullanum on the site. Fortified by Valentinian III in the mid-5th century, it was the site to which the last western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was exiled in 476. Eugippius founded a monastery on the site after 492.

Middle Ages

The remains of the Roman-era structures and later fortifications were demolished by local residents in the 9th century to prevent their use by Saracen raiders. The first castle on the site was built by the Normans in the 12th century. Roger the Norman, conquering Naples in 1140, made Castel dell 'Ovo his seat. The importance of the Castel dell'Ovo began to decline when king Charles I of Anjou built a new castle, Castel Nuovo, and moved his court there. Castel dell'Ovo became the seat of the Royal Chamber and of the State Treasury. It also served as a prison. The current appearance dates from the Aragonese domination (15th century).

Modern Age

It was struck by French and Spanish artillery during the Italian Wars; in the Neapolitan Republic of 1799 its guns were used by rebels to deter the philo-Bourbon population of the city. After a long period of decay the site got its current appearance during an extensive renovation project started in 1975.

Architecture

In the 19th century a small fishing village called Borgo Marinaro, which is still extant, developed around the castle's eastern wall. It is now known for its marina and restaurants. The castle is rectangular in plan, approximately 200 by 45 metres at its widest, with a high bastion overlooking the causeway that connects it to the shore; the causeway is more than 100 metres long and a popular location for newlyweds to have their wedding photos taken. Inside the castle walls are several buildings that are often used for exhibitions and other special events. Behind the castle there is a long promontory once probably used as a docking area. A large round tower stands outside the castle walls to the southeast.

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Details

Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Italy

More Information

www.castel-dell-ovo.com

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Stephen Boyack (17 months ago)
We came in and at the front there was a booth selling tickets. The man there said we didn't need tickets to go to the top of the castle, just to go inside. We skipped the inside and just saw the roof, and it was gorgeous if a bit windy. Definitely recommend the view, just don't waste time with ticketing.
Carlos Portillo (17 months ago)
Wow, this castle is gorgeous and a great free thing to experience. You can walk in and to the top of the backside of the castle. From there you can get s great view of the whole pier. Highly recommend a visit.
Anita Lewandowska (17 months ago)
No 1 castle for us. Great location beautiful views and panoramas interesting inside though nothing really stunning inside as all castles in Naples. Best restaurants just aside and great place to chill.
Christopher Hackl (18 months ago)
One of multiple very big castles in Napoli. Absolutely worth going. Gives a good view of the harbor, the surrounding islands and parts of Napoli. Entrance is (still) for free. With the high walls it is impressive from below as well as from above!
Alice (18 months ago)
A wonderful history place. Entrance to the castle is FREE. You can wander though the main walkway of this defensive castle and from the top get a wonderful view of the coast. There are numerous information signs in Italian and English which describe the history of the building. And if you want to make it to the top with less effort, there are elevators (just as you round the corner at the entrance they are to your left. There are a number of paths that are closed off and that I would have like to explore so one star off for that.
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