Castel Nuovo, also known as Maschio Angioino, is a castle that was built in the Middle Ages located in Napoli. Because of its great and imposing look, the castle has throughout the years become one of the main symbols of the city of Naples.
Castel Nuovo, also known as Maschio Angioino, is a castle that was built in the Middle Ages located in Napoli.
Because of its great and imposing look, the castle has throughout the years become one of the main symbols of the city of Naples.
Up until 1815, Castel Nuovo used to be the royal seat of the king of Naples.
Nowadays, apart from being a civic museum, it is the main office of the Neapolitan Society of Homeland History and the Committee of the Institute for the History of the Italian Risorgimento.
Let’s find out more about Castel Nuovo, one of the main symbols of the city of Naples!
History of Castel Nuovo
The construction of Castel Nuovo began in 1279 under the commission of Charles I of Anjou after he defeated the Hohenstaufens and ascended the throne of Sicily and chose to make Naples the capital.
Castel Nuovo was designed on the model of a plan created by Pierre de Chaule and Pierre d’Angicourt, two French architects.
The palace was built in a Gothic Style and it consists of an irregular rectangle surrounded by four defensive towers and a large gate with a drawbridge.
The Castle was called “Castel Nuovo” (New Castle) from the very beginning, to distinguish it from Castel dell’Ovo and Castel Capuano. This castle was built to protect the city of Naples and it, in fact, has the same defensive system as Castel dell’Ovo - considered to be one of the best - and it’s located in a very strategic position.
Even though the castle was commissioned by king Charles I, he never lived in it since the construction work ended in 1285, his year of death. The first king that managed to move into this residence was Charles II, commonly known as the Lame. He chose to enlarge this castle and decorate it just like his successors. Throughout the centuries, in fact, Castel Nuovo underwent a lot of restoration work and was enriched by works of art from some of the most important artists of that time such as Pietro Cavallini, Giotto and Montano d’Arezzo.
Things you can't miss out on about Castel Nuovo
Castel Nuovo is filled with history and beauty, here’s a list of some of the things you definitely can’t miss out on when visiting this beautiful palace:
- The Palatine Chapel: located in the fortress, it was built by the Angevins in 1307. It had to be partially rebuilt in 1456 because of an earthquake that destroyed some of it. It’s filled with paintings from artists like Maso di Banco and sculptures by Domenico Gagini, a student of Donatello and Brunelleschi;
- The Chapel of Saint Francis of Paola: Consecrated in 1668 and built in Baroque style, it was designed by Guillem Sagrera;
- Hall of the barons: Also known as Sala Maior, it’s the main room in the castle and it was created as a throne room and originally decorated with frescoes by Giotto that were, unfortunately, lost throughout the centuries;
The legends of the prisons and the pit of the crocodile
The city of Naples is filled with many legends that are passed on through generations.
A very particular legend about Castel Nuovo that will probably stick with you is the one about its prisons. Right under the Palatine Chapel, you can find two rooms that used to be prisons: the Millet Prison and the Barons’ Prison.
The Millet Prison was mainly used to hold prisoners who had to receive heavy punishments. Throughout the years though, prisoners had begun to disappear frequently and no one could understand why.
The dilemma was later on solved when they found out that a crocodile had penetrated the building through an opening and dragged the prisoners to the sea after hurting them! Crazy, right?
Castel Nuovo surely is a core element of the city of Naples and a must-see when visiting it! If you want to get to know more about Italy and the city of Naples, make sure to check out our website for other amazing blogs!