Castel Nuovo, called “Nuovo” (new) to differentiate it from Castel dell’Ovo and Castel Capuano (the other two castles of Naples), is also known as “Maschio Angioino”. This name come from a Florentine medieval term which indicated, in a structure with more towers, the largest and most secure in case of a military attack.
In 1279 Charles I Angevin entrusted the design of the fortress to the French architect Pierre de Chaule. The walls, four of the five towers and the Palatine Chapel are the only parts left of the original structure.
The Chapel has a wonderful cycle of frescoes, of which remains only few fragments. The pictorial decoration was mainly realized by the Florentine artist Maso di Banco, but stories from the Old and the New Testament were painted by Giotto.
In 1442 Naples was conquered by the Aragonese.
King Alfonso I commissioned works to the whole structure: it was added a fifth tower and it was built the moat around the building, the outer walls were thickened and it was built the monumental arch in white marble.
The arch is the celebration of the victorious entry of Alfonso I in Naples. At the top of it it’s placed a sculpture which commemorates the event: it depicts the King in a chariot pulled by four white horses, with a figure of a woman, Parthenope. At its sides, inserted in four recesses, there are four statues representing the virtues of the king: justice, temperance, fortitude, prudence.
Alfonso I also commissioned the “Sala dei Baroni” (Room of the Barons), a Renaissance styled boardroom named after the arrest, inside of it, of many members of the Neapolitan aristocracy after a conspiracy against the King.
In the basement of the fortress you can find the so called “Crocodile’s Pit”. It was named this way because of a legend that says that the rulers who wanted to “get rid of” a prisoner threw him into the pit to feed the crocodile that lived inside of it.
Today Castel Nuovo is the location of the Civic Museum of Naples, which collects the works of art of the city of Naples (mostly paintings, sculptures and liturgical objects) . The exhibition itinerary goes through the Armoury’s Room, the Palatine Chapel, the Emperor’s Charles V Room and the Sala della Loggia.
Hours of operation:
Sundays and holidays: 09.00-14.30
Full price: 6 euros
Reduced with Artecard: 3 euros
Free for EU citizens under 18 years