The building of the Castel Nuovo began in 1279 under the reign of Charles I of Anjou, on the basis of a plan by the French architect Pierre de Chaule. The strategic position of the new castle gave it the characteristics not only of a royal residence, but also those of a fortress. From the very beginning it was called Castrum Novum to distinguish it from the older castles dell'Ovo and Capuano.
During the reign of Robert of Anjou the castle became a centre of culture giving hospitality to artists, doctors and men of letters among whom were Giotto, Petrarch and Boccaccio. The Anjevins were succeeded by the Aragonese Alfonso I who, like his predecessors, used the Castel Nuovo as the royal residence, beginning work of reconstruction and having built, on the outside walls, between the Torre di Mezzo (Halfway Tower) and the Torre di Guardia (Watch Tower) the impressive Triumphal Arch to celebrate his victorious entry into the city of Naples.
The time of the Aragonese saw the passage from the medieval castle-palace to the fortress as it now appears; it was adapted to the new needs of a time of war and the area surrounding the Castle lost the residential character it had under the Anjevins. The structure of the Aragonese building is undoubtedly more massive than its Anjevin predecessor and was quite similar to the present-day castle, which is the result of the clearance works of the early years of the 20th century.
At the end of the 15th century, the French succeeded to the Aragonese, though they did not remain for long as they were succeeded in turn by the Spanish viceroys and the Austrians. During the viceroy period (1503-1734), the defence structures of the castle, needed for purely military purposes, underwent further modification. With the advent of Charles III of Bourbon, who defeated the emperor Charles VI in 1734, the castle was surrounded by buildings of all kinds, warehouses and houses, and this happened time and time again.
In the first two decades of the 20th century, the Municipal Council began the work of isolating the castle from the annexed buildings in recognition of the historical and monumental importance of the fortress and the need to reclaim the piazza in front of it. The castle is today the venue of cultural events and also houses the Municipal Museum.
A tour of the museum takes us from the Armoury Hall, the Palatine or Saint Barbara Chapel, the first and second levels of the southern courtyard and the Charles V Hall and the Sala della Loggia which are to host exhibitions and cultural events.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.