Maschio Angioino

The Maschio Angioino, also known as Castel Nuovo, is one of the most visited and admired attractions in Naples. It is a medieval and Renaissance fortress that dominates the picturesque Piazza Municipio, just a few steps from the port and the historic center. The castle has a millennia-long history intertwined with that of the city and its rulers, housing a civic museum, a library, a chapel, and various frescoed rooms.

History

The Maschio Angioino was commissioned by Charles I of Anjou in 1266, after defeating the Swabians and transferring the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily from Palermo to Naples. Its was intended to serve as a royal residence and a defensive bulwark against enemy incursions. The name comes from the Florentine term “mastio,” which referred to the main tower of a fortress.

Over the centuries, the castle underwent various transformations and expansions, especially under the rule of the Aragonese, who renovated it in a Gothic style and added the triumphal arch to celebrate the entry of Alfonso V of Aragon into the city. The castle also witnessed historical events such as the Barons’ conspiracy, the revolt of Masaniello, the coronation of Charles V, and the siege by Charles VIII of France.

After the Bourbon period, the castle entered a gradual decline, eventually becoming a military barracks and an ammunition depot. In 1919, the castle was returned to the City of Naples, which initiated its restoration and designated it as a museum and cultural center.

What to see at the Maschio Angioino

The castle offers visitors a rich journey through art and history, winding through its towers, halls, and chapels. Here are some of the main attractions:

  • The triumphal arch: It is the main entrance to the castle, built between 1453 and 1468 in the Renaissance style. The arch features a frieze depicting the triumphal procession of Alfonso of Aragon, surrounded by the four virtues and the statue of Saint Michael.
  • The Palatine Chapel: It is the only surviving element of the original Angevin castle, built in the 13th century in Gothic style. The chapel houses frescoes, sculptures, and stained glass, including the polyptych by Roberto d’Oderisio, depicting the Madonna with Child and saints.
  • The Barons’ Hall: It is the largest and most majestic hall of the castle, located on the first floor. The hall is named after the Barons’ conspiracy, a noble rebellion against King Ferrante of Aragon, which culminated in this hall in 1486. The hall is decorated with frescoes, including the one on the vault depicting the triumph of Alfonso of Aragon.
  • The Armory Hall: It is a hall that houses a collection of weapons and armor from the castle and other historical sites in Naples. The hall also exhibits some archaeological finds from the Roman era, discovered during the castle’s excavations.
  • The Civic Museum: It is the museum that collects artworks documenting the history and culture of Naples and its neighboring cities from the 15th to the 20th century. The museum is divided into two floors, where visitors can admire paintings, sculptures, ceramics, tapestries, furniture, and various objects.

Curiosities

The Maschio Angioino is a castle that hides many secrets and anecdotes, making the visit even more interesting. Here are some curiosities about the Maschio Angioino:

  • The castle was the first building in Italy to be illuminated with electric light in 1888, on the occasion of the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita.
  • The castle was also the first building in Italy to be equipped with an elevator in 1890, at the initiative of Mayor Nicola Amore.
  • The castle was the site of the first civil marriage in Italy in 1860, between the patriot Giuseppe Ricciardi and the noblewoman Luisa Sanfelice.

  • View on Google Maps
  • Distance 700 meters from Toledo Metro Station – 100 meters from Municipio Metro Station
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