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Castel dell’Ovo is among the most popular attractions and perhaps the most frequently photographed landmark in the city of Naples, Italy. It is situated on what was once the colonized, Greek island of Megaride, settled around the sixth century BC. The island is now a peninsula in Naples and maintains a formidable position in the harbor. Its nickname of Egg Castle comes from the legend that poet Virgil placed a magical egg under the foundation of the castle to support it. During this time he was not only a renowned poet, but also had a reputation as a sorcerer. Today, the Egg Castle is the home of the Museum of Prehistory in Naples, a popular museum that is unfortunately only open for special exhibits and events.
Local residents destroyed all of the Roman structures that at one time dominated the island in the ninth century to keep them from being used by Arab invaders. The Normans erected the first permutation of a castle in the twelfth century. The prominence of the Castell dell’Ovo faded to a degree when the royal residency of Charles I of Anjou constructed the Castel Nuovo and moved his court there. It served as a defense castle throughout the Middle Ages, and was significantly increased in size in both the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Impressively, the formidable Egg Castle remained a place of royal residency until the twentieth century.
When you visit the Gulf of Naples and see this castle dominating the harbor and backdrop of the Tyrrhenian Sea, you may find it hard to believe that people actually occupied it at one time. Together with attractions like the Naples caves and the Royal Palace, this medieval castle is definitely one of the most impressive destinations in the city.
There are several prominent attractions inside the Castel dell’Ovo besides the Museum of Prehistory. One of the most impressive is the legendary Sala delle Colonne, or Hall of the Columns. Together with the Loggiato, the Sala delle Colonne provides true architectural inspiration for anyone who is lucky enough to visit this amazing destination on the harbor in Naples. Perhaps the most alluring part of any visit to the medieval castle is viewing the city and harbor from two towers—Torre Maestra and Torre Normanna. If there is an exhibition or event at the Museum of Prehistory or a concert at the Castel dell’Ovo, then these are things you should look into doing.
If it is an otherwise quiet time around the castle, you will still have plenty of options for things to do, from shopping and dining in the Borgo dei Marinari. This popular neighborhood that is adjacent to Santa Lucia began when fishermen from the area built a fishing village around the castle. Now many of the beautiful houses have been converted in to excellent restaurants where you can enjoy sumptuous, fresh seafood and marvelous vistas of the harbor and sea. One of the best things you can do when visiting the harbor and the Castell dell’Ovo is to meander through the narrow alleyways and inviting streets of the Borgo dei Marinari. Be sure to enjoy the seafood and the view, and take your time with a nice glass of wine.
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