Evidence of the ancient history of Naples are 4 castles from different ages, considered among the most beautiful and interesting sights of the city.
If you come to Naples by sea you immediately enjoy the medieval castle Maschio Angioino, one of the most famous castles of Italy, overlooking the spectacular Piazza Municipio. Built in the thirteenth century by order of Charles of Anjou and later renovated by the Aragonese, it was a royal residence and fortress and became a cultural center where artists and writers like Giotto, Petrarca and Boccaccio stayed. According to an ancient legend in the prisons lived a crocodile that ate the prisoners being thrown therein through a secret trap door. When it was killed its body was embalmed and placed at the entrance of the fortress.
From the castle looking up the hill you can see the Sant’Elmo castle keeping guard of Naples. Built in tuff in the fourteenth century by Robert of Anjou it allows you to look at the various parts of the city from its mighty ramparts. It was first used as a prison for political prisoners and later for the military ones until 1952 and now is a multi-purpose center for cultural activities and initiatives.
The second oldest castle in Naples Castle Capuano was founded as a royal residence in the twelfth century by William I and was later altered by various rulers. Under the Aragonese kingdom it was transformed into a courthouse, a function that still keeps today.
But the image of Naples is definitely linked to that of the fortified castle Castel dell’Ovo that reigns in all the postcards of the city. It’s the oldest and most imposing castle perched in Naples and the Bay of Naples. It is located on the small island of Megaride and it is connected to the mainland by a causeway. Legend has it that on this island the siren Parthenope landed. The castle stands on an area once colonized by the Greeks and the Romans that built a magnificent villa, called Castrum Lucullanum. Later there was a monastery and in the 12th century the castle was built. Its name comes from the medieval myth according to which Virgil would have hidden in a secret place of the castle an egg capable of protecting the city from disasters and hazards. Today it is home to major museum exhibitions and is one of the most representative places of the city, with a unique and breath-taking view that spans the gulf.
At the foot of the castle there is the picturesque fishing village Borgo Marinari that grew up in the 19th century. Here the Neapolitans always come to eat the seafood specialties of the Neapolitan cuisine in the many restaurants overlooking the sea.
Your trip to Naples cannot be complete without a visit to these castles through which you can discover such a fundamental part of the history of this amazing city.