Castel del Ovo in Naples

Castel del Ovo in Naples

The medieval Castel dell’Ovo in Naples (Castel dell’Ovo) is located on the small island of Santa Lucia, which is connected to the mainland by a narrow embankment. From this place begins the history of the first city built here in the 6th century B.C.

It is one of the oldest castles in Naples, which is worth a visit. It has an interesting history, unique architecture, and from the observation deck you can admire a mesmerizing view of the Bay of Naples and the entire city.

The name of the castle translates as “The Castle of the Egg”. Why? Find out in this article.

History of the origin of Castel del Ovo

The first city, named Partenopeia, was founded on the island of Megarides in the 6th century B.C. by the first settlers from Cum.

During the Roman Empire, the general Lucius Lucullus built a rich palace there in the 1st century B.C. and during the reign of Emperor Valentinian III, the island was carefully fortified. Then in 476 the last emperor Romulus Augustulus was brought here.

Monks and Monastery

Between 492 and 496, a few monks from the order of Saint Basil arrived on the island bringing with them the relics of Saint Severin of Nicor. They lived on the island in cells that they had cut out in the rocks. These cells can be seen today.

In the 8th century, a monastery was built on the island, called the Abode of the Savior, where the monks moved. The cells were used for secret rituals, as well as a necropolis.

Construction of the castle

The construction of the castle is attributed to the Norman Roger II of Sicily, who in 1139 seized this land and built the impregnable fortress of Castel dell’Ovo. This castle became his residence.

In the 14th century, a large part of the castle’s interior collapsed during a major earthquake. Fortunately, the structures were rebuilt by the architect Giovanni de Giulho.

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In 1503 the structure was besieged by Ferdinand II of Aragon when a mine explosion severely damaged the northern part of the castle. This part of the castle was later reconstructed into a huge vaulted hall, called the Italian Hall. It was used at that time as a stables.

From 1503 to 1734 the castle was entirely a military fortification, not a royal residence. In 1693 the Ramaletto battery appeared on its western side.

In the 18th century the castle was used as a prison. Here were imprisoned the poet and philosopher Tommaso Campanella and political figures of the 19th century, Carlo Poerio, Francesco di Sanctis, Luigi Settembrini.

Modern times

At present, the castle often hosts exhibitions and various concerts. On the eve of major holidays, fireworks and bright lights are lit here.

Be sure to climb to the top of the castle to admire a beautiful view of the whole of Naples! You will see the Palazzo Reale di Napoli, Castel Nuovo, the port with the beautiful liners, the castle on Castel Sant’Elmo, and Vesuvius volcano.

At the foot of the castle there are many restaurants and bars where you can relax after sightseeing and eat delicious local cuisine.

The architecture of Castel del Ovo

The castle looks very monumental and imposing, as befits a medieval castle of the 11th-13th centuries. Although it features an unusual elongated shape.

In the architecture of the fortress stands out many arches, which are decorated with antique columns and pilasters.

Castel del Ovo


Towers and bastion

Despite the many damages during the history of the fortress, the main walls and the structure of the castle have been preserved since the 9th century. Back then, the castle was divided into northern and southern parts using an arch.

The northern part, built in the 16th century, includes the Colleville Tower: it is connected with the Grand Bastion. The southern part, erected in the 14th century, includes:

  • The Great Tower;
  • The Middle Tower, where the church of St. Salvatore is located;
  • The Norman Tower.
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The Norman Tower was used as the main bastion of the castle, with a Norman flag on top. It was characterized by very thick walls and served to protect the southern ledge of the fortress. The tower has a large window at its base on the west side which gives a good view of the sea.

The Battery of Ramaletto is a bastion that appeared during Spanish rule. It housed 60 pieces of cannon. The bastion is connected to the main body of the castle, forming a wing with a large tower on its edge.

Currently, the castle is no longer divided into two parts, as the Great Arch Hall was formed during the reconstruction.

Of particular interest are the Hall of Columns from the time of the Angevin rule and Queen Giovanna’s Prison, an underground room cut out in the rock near the entrance to the castle.

Castel del Ovo

Photo: Eug Png /


Also in the castle is St. Peter’s Church, which was erected in the 14th century.

In 1847, its interior was completely changed, so the original appearance of the church has not been preserved to this day.


At the end of the tour you can visit the historical museum located in the castle. There are not only items of everyday life of the Neapolitans of the 14th-16th centuries, but also paintings of famous artists such as Titian and Vaccaro.


Many legends are associated with the origin of the name of the castle. From the Italian Castel del Ovo is translated as “castle of eggs”. There are two versions of the origin of such a strange name.

The first says that the castle was called so because of its elongated shape, resembling an egg. According to the other legend, the Roman magician Virgil hid a magic egg under the fortress, through which the walls of the castle were held.

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How to get to Castel del Ovo

The castle is located at Via Eldorado 3. Take Metro Line 1 to Municipio or Toledo stations.

Opening hours

Castel del Ovo is open from Monday to Saturday from 9.00 to 19.30 in the summer season and to 18.30 in the winter season.

Visiting costs

Admission to the castle is free as of 2022.

Schedules and ticket prices are subject to change – check the official Castel del Ovo website for information.

See also

Next to the castle is Piazza Plebiscita, Naples’ central square, with a statue of Italian King Victor Emmanuel II at its center.

Here you can visit the famous Royal Palace and the church of St. Francis of Paola. In the center is an equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II, the king who unified Italy.

Tours of Naples

Would you like a tour of Naples led by an experienced guide? Of course, it is better if your guide is a local, who will introduce you to the city like no other.

Castel del Ovo

Castel del Ovo is a medieval castle located on the island of Megarida in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The island on which it stands is very close to the coast and is connected by a narrow embankment to the coastal area of Naples, Santa Lucia. Castel dell’Ovo is a majestic architectural monument. It is endowed with a rich history and attracts many tourists.

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General Information

The name of the fortifications means “egg fortress” or “egg castle” in Italian. According to one version, it came from the unusual elongated shape of the castle. Another explanation of the name appeared, thanks to an old legend. Legend has it that the Roman poet Virgil hid a magic egg in the dark dungeons of the fortress, and until it is found, the city of Naples and Castel del Ovo are safe. Virgil was thought to be a magician, and so the fictional story is treated with trepidation by Italians.

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Although nine centuries have passed since the construction of Castel del Ovo, much of the fortress is in very good condition. Today, tourists have the opportunity to see the old castle from the outside and inside, as well as walk its stone walls. From the observation decks there are great views of the main attractions of the seaside town – the Royal Palace, Castel Nuovo and Castel Sant’Elmo, the sea port and the huge volcano Vesuvius.

History of the castle

The first settlement on the island was supposedly founded by Greek colonists, who arrived here in the 6th century B.C. At a later time, the Roman general and consul Lucius Licinius Lucculus appreciated the picturesque place. He built a villa on it and immortalized his own name in its name “Castellum Lucullanum”. In V century, when the empire was ruled by Valentinian III, the villa was rebuilt and the banks of the small island were fortified to protect the island from enemy attack. Then for a long time monks lived on Megarides.

The castle of Castel dell’Ovo appeared in 1139, thanks to the first king of the kingdom of Sicily, Roger II. Powerful fortifications were needed to protect the city from the sea. A century later, the royal court moved from the island to the new Castle of Castel Nuovo, built by Charles of Anjou.

During the reigns of several dynasties, the stone fortress on the island housed the royal treasury, the judiciary and the prison, where people undesirable to the authorities were kept and executed. There are many legends about the ghosts of Castel del Hovo. Some particularly impressionable visitors to this day hear the sounds of shackles and moans of tortured prisoners.

In the fifteenth century the island fortress underwent significant reconstruction. Its walls were strengthened so that the fortifications could withstand cannon fire. These measures were not superfluous, because during the French-Italian armies, Castel del Hovo found itself in the line of fire more than once.

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Castel del Ovo today

The picturesque fortress is often used for various cultural events, exhibitions and symposiums. Before the holidays, the ancient walls are illuminated and spectacular fireworks are staged near Castel del Ovo.

Most of the castle was built in the Romanesque style with Baroque elements. It is very interesting to travel through the courtyards of the ancient fortress. Here you can see many arches with pilasters and ancient columns. Many tourists look into the small church of St. Peter, built in the XIV century.

In Castel del Ovo there is a historical museum, where one can see a rich collection of archaeological artifacts and household items of the Neapolitans who lived in the XIV-XVI centuries. The museum also exhibits ancient documents, photographs and paintings of famous Italian painters.

A visit to Castel del Ovo is free. The Castle is open on weekdays from 8.00 to 19.00 and on weekends from 8.00 to 14.00.

How to get there

Castel del Ovo is located near the marina in Via Eldorado, 3. Take bus number C25. Go to the stop “Via Partenope”.

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