Castel dell'Ovo, Naples

Castel dell'Ovo ("Egg Castle") is a seafront castle in Naples, located on the former island of Megaride, now a peninsula, on the Gulf of Naples in Italy. The castle's name comes from a legend about the Roman poet Virgil, who had a reputation in the Middle Ages as a great sorcerer and predictor of the future. In the legend, Virgil put a magical egg into the foundations to support the fortifications. It remains there along with his bones, and had this egg been broken, the castle would have been destroyed and a series of disastrous events for Naples would have followed. The castle is located between the districts of San Ferdinando and Chiaia, facing Mergellina across the sea.

The Castel dell'Ovo is the oldest standing fortification in Naples. The island of Megaride was where Greek colonists from Cumae founded the original nucleus of the city in the 6th century BC. Its location affords it an excellent view of the Naples waterfront and the surrounding area.

In the 1st century BC, the Roman patrician Lucius Licinius Lucullus built part of the magnificent villa, later called Castellum Lucullanum, on the site.

Fortified by Valentinian III in the mid-5th century, it was the site to which the last western Roman emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was exiled in 476. Eugippius founded a monastery on the site after 492.


In the 19th century a small fishing village called Borgo Marinaro, which is still extant, developed around the castle's eastern wall. It is now known for its marina and restaurants. The castle is rectangular in plan, approximately 200 by 45 meters at its widest, with a high bastion overlooking the causeway that connects it to the shore; the causeway is more than 100 meters long and a popular location for newlyweds to have their wedding photos taken. Inside the castle walls are several buildings that are often used for exhibitions and other special events. Behind the castle, there is a long promontory once probably used as a docking area. A large round tower stands outside the castle walls to the southeast.

Underwater archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a 2500-year-old harbor associated with the origins of the first Greek settlement of Paleopolis (which preceded the ancient city of Neapolis, now Naples) in the sea next to the castle. Four tunnels, a 10-foot-wide street demonstrating furrows consistent with cart traffic, and a trench which was likely built as a defensive structure for soldiers were discovered submerged immediately adjacent to the castle. The discovery was announced in March 2018, after the September 2017 identification of the original port of Neapolis.

This text is based on a Wikipedia article written by contributors under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

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  Via Eldorado, 3, 80132 Napoli NA, Italy
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