Castel dell’Ovo and Naples' seafront

Castel dell’Ovo and Naples' seafront

One of the main stops of the tours in the splendid Naples is certainly the walk on Lungomare Caracciolo. Here the beauty of the Gulf of Naples leaves every watcher breathless and welcome all the travelers in an itinerary in the heart of the history of Naples. Along the way you can meet several points of interest but the most important and rich in history is Castel dell’Ovo.

The history of Castel dell’Ovo: from Roman origins to military use

The origins of Castel dell’Ovo are closely linked to the birth of Naples itself and its history begins already in Roman times, when Lucio Licinio Lucullus decides to retire to private life after the glorious military campaigns in Asia. The wealth accumulated by the Roman general allowed him to build a huge villa called Castrum Lucullanum on the islet of Megaride.

Here Lucio Licinio Lucullo organizes rich banquets and marvelous shows: the pomp and excesses of the Castrum will give rise to the term "luculliano". After the death of Lucullus, the Roman Empire acquires the ownership of the villa and later will host Romulus Augustulus in exile, the last Roman emperor whose death in 476 decrees the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the beginning of the Middle Ages . The various dynasties that passed through Naples contributed to the development of Castel dell’Ovo, whose task has almost always been a defense bastion of the Gulf of Naples. Later the Aragonese made it a prison and after the unification of Italy Castel dell’Ovo became a fortress of the Navy. In the 1980s it was entrusted to the Ministry for Cultural Heritage, which later gave the management to the Municipality of Naples.

The legend of the Castel dell’Ovo egg

The name of Castel dell’Ovo derives directly from an ancient legend about it. The story has as its protagonist the great poet Publio Virgilio Marone. The great fame of Virgil, who also made him Dante's "official companion" on his journey through the circles of Hell, is due to his writings and a story that concerns the islet of Megaride. It is said that in the basement of the Castrum Lucullanum, Virgil created - through mysterious magic - an artifact based on an egg enclosed in a crystal jug, in turn enclosed in a metal cage suspended from the ceiling. Legend tells that the integrity of the egg determined the fate of the islet of Megaride, the castle and the entire city.

On 26 July 1370 a storm hit Castel dell'Ovo causing extensive damage to the structure used as a prison: this offers the opportunity for the prisoner Ambrogio Visconti to escape from his cell but, in a hasty escape, he hits the metal cage breaking the magical egg. Following the accident, part of Castel dell’Ovo collapsed and Mount Echia collapsed. Despite the end of the storm, popular beliefs take over and the Neapolitan population falls prey to despair, to the point that Queen Giovanna herself had to intervene to restore order, and deciding for the replacement of the infamous egg to save the city.

Do you want to explore Castel dell’Ovo? Contact us and we will take you on a fantastic walk to Lungomare Caracciolo!

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