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Maschio Angioino

Castel Nuovo, better known as Maschio Angioino, is a medieval and Renaissance castle built at the behest of Charles I of Anjou in 1266, after defeating the Swabians, ascending the throne of Sicily and moving the capital from Palermo to Naples.

 Since the thirteenth century, the imposing Maschio Angioino, with its large five cylindrical towers, has been one of the symbols of the city of Naples, thanks to its strategic position in Piazza Municipio, in the Port area.

 The fortress was built at the behest of King Charles I of Anjou, who moved the capital of the kingdom of Sicily from Palermo to Naples.

 The ‘Nuovo’ castle was built to guard the city from enemy raids, in fact the position in which it was built was of strategic importance and completed a defensive system that previously had as protagonists the Castel dell’Ovo, now too old and obsolete for the attack systems of the time, and Castel Capuano, in a not very strategic position and far from the sea.  And these last two castles have suggested the name of Castel Nuovo, to distinguish it from the previous two, more ancient.

 The appearance of the castle we see today is very different from what the Neapolitans who lived at the time of construction must have seen.  The castle shows itself today as a stratification of many eras.  The fortress has remained indeed the protagonist of Naples for many years, it was the home of kings and illustrious guests: after the death of Charles I of Anjou, the structure housed the new king Charles II of Anjou, called the Lame, and all his family;  the Castle was the scene of the abdication of Pope Celestine V and the consequent election of Boniface VIII in 1294.

 The fortress changed hands many times, Charles III of Durazzo took possession of it on the occasion of the capture of Naples, then left it to his son Ladislao, who lost the castle to Louis II of Anjou, but it was reconquered not very late. in 1399. Ladislao I of Naples lived there until his death in 1414. Alfonso the Magnanimous of Aragon, after having conquered Naples in 1443, decided to rearrange the structure, equipping it with new defensive walls and a spectacular triumphal arch.  The fortress, entrusted to the skilled hands of the Majorcan architect Guillerm Segrera, takes on a Gothic style.

 The castle was sacked again during the expedition of Charles VIII of France in 1494. But with the fall of Ferdinand II and Frederick I of Aragon, Naples fell into the hands of the Spanish crown, and formed the Kingdom of Naples as viceroyalty.  And it was from that moment that Castel Nuovo became a simple military garrison, losing the function of royal residence.

 From this period on, the castle suffered a lot of damage, due to neglect and the change of functional use of the structure.  But functionality was not the only reason for the destruction of many artistic ornaments, the new owners indeed wanted to eliminate the characteristic signs of the Angevin and Aragonese dominion.  At the beginning of the 16th century the castle was equipped with new bastions and moats, signs still evident in the structure.  The towers are 5 and draw the corners of the planimetric perimeter of the fortress.

 Castel Nuovo was again renovated by Carlo Sebastiano di Borbone, who ascended the throne of Naples in 1734. With the new rulers, the castle definitively lost its role as royal seat.  The Bourbons worked on the construction of new royal residences, such as the Royal Palace of Piazza Plebiscito or the Royal Palace of Caserta, among others.

 The last major restoration took place in 1823 with Ferdinand I, while in the 1900s only a few aesthetic adjustments were made in the area surrounding the castle. The buildings that flanked the castle were indeed demolished to make way for a garden.

 lToday the castle hosts cultural events and shows and is the permanent seat of the Civic Museum, as well as the library of the Neapolitan Society of Homeland History.