Castel Nuovo, often called Maschio Angioino, is a medieval castle located in front of Piazza Municipio and the city hall in central Naples, Campania, Italy.
Castel Nuovo, often called Maschio Angioino, is a medieval castle located in front of Piazza Municipio and the city hall in central Naples, Campania, Italy. Its scenic location and imposing size makes the castle, first erected in 1279, one of the main architectural landmarks of the city. It was a royal seat for kings of Naples, Aragon and Spain until 1815. It is the headquarters of Neapolitan Society of Homeland History and of the Naples Committee of the Institute for the History of the Italian Risorgimento. In the complex there is also the civic museum, which includes the Palatine Chapel and the museum paths on the first and second floors.
The origins and the dynasty of the House of Anjou
The construction of its former nucleus -today partly re-emerged following restoration and archaeological exploration work- is due to the initiative of Charles I of Anjou, who in 1266, defeated the Hohenstaufens, ascended to the throne of Sicily and established the transfer of the capital from Palermo to the city of Naples.
The presence of an external monarchy had set the town planning of Naples around the center of the royal power, constituting an alternative urban core, formed by the port and by the two main castles adjacent to it, Castel Capuano and Castel dell'Ovo. This relationship between the royal court and town planning had already manifested itself with Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, who in the 13th century, in the Swabian statute had concentrated greater attention on castles neglecting the city walls. To the two existing castles the Anjevins added the main, Castel Nuovo (Chastiau neuf), which was not just a fortification but above all his magnificent palace.
The royal residence of Naples had been until then the Castel Capuano, but the Norman ancient fortress was judged as inadequate to the function and the king wanted to build a new castle near the sea.
The project was designed by the French architect Pierre de Chaulnes, the construction of the Castrum Novum started in 1279 to finish just three years later, a very short time considering the techniques of construction of the period and the overall size of the work. However, the king never lived there: following the War of the Sicilian Vespers, which cost to the House of Anjou the crown of Sicily, conquered by Peter III of Aragon and other events, the new palace remained unused until 1285, the year of the death of Charles I.