The castle stands on a small island located in front of Via Partenope in Naples, formerly called Megaride, whose left side, looking from the mainland, is the result of a sea filled with made in the early twentieth century, named Borgo Marinaro. Residences were built on the same. They were designed to house the fishermen of Saint Lucia, forced to leave their homes to allow the urban regeneration of that part of town.
The island is connected to the mainland by a pier road that is part of a marina where various yacht clubs (Savoia Club, Italia Club, Rari Nantes) are sited together with renowned restaurants and some small shipyards, which are concerned with the maintenance of boats.
The castle is the oldest in Naples. It was built on the ruins of the villa of Lucullus. It was later transformed into a Monastery which housed the Basilian friars. At that time island took the name of San Salvatore to the presence of a church so called.
From the twelfth century the fortification of the islet began, Ruggiero the Norman, conquered Naples, used that castle as his royal palace. Initial fortifications were transformed and strengthened to accommodate the real family and the crown jewels. The fortress became known as the Castel dell’Ovo, according to a legend that claimed in the foundations of the castle was located an egg by the poet and magician Virgilio, and if the egg was broken, the castle would collapse together with the city of Naples.
The Castle was also used as a prison. We were imprisoned in 1268 Conradin and his companions, then executed in the Piazza Mercato. The children of Manfredi were held captive in the castle, the two boys to death, while Beatrice was liberated in 1284, after 18 years of imprisonment.
In 1503 it was badly damaged during the siege of the Spanish to the French who had occupied. On this occasion it was modernized to meet the latest military technology of the time, with the addition of a circular fort jutting out into the sea, losing its medieval fortress.
In 1799, the fall of the Neapolitan Republic, the Liberals Carlo Poerio, Francesco de Sanctis and Luigi Settembrini they were held captive before being executed by the Bourbons, in defiance of an agreement signed by the king in person, which ensured safe passage to the rebels.
After 1943 and until 1975, the year of its last renovation, it was inhabited by several families because of the war had lost their homes.
Currently, the castle presents a main entrance after which there is a large vestibule, here a road begins on which there are some medieval battlements, after a sharp bend under the Torre di Normandia, leads to the top of the castle.
On the right, Salvatore’s church is after the Torre di Normandia, it presents Byzantine and Baroque frescoes; on the left is located a building that houses the Stanza Gotica.
Through the hopper windows one can see the ruins of the Basilian monastery called the Romitorio di San Patrizio, is located just after the Torre Maestra; on the right there is a porch where the nineteenth century there was a chapel.
At the end of the road there is a large terrace with overview on Naples where there are still, between the battlements, ancient cannons which curiously are pointed in the direction of the city.
(Photo at the top: Castel dellOvo – Gil – 2007 – CC BY 2.0)