The Italian city of Naples holds on to its roguish, old-world charm and layers of history with an iron fist, and with good reason: its medieval fortresses have been used to defend the Bay of Naples from naval attacks for centuries. Here, we’ve picked out which castles in and near Naples – from Castel dell’Ovo to Castello Aragonese – are most worth a visit.
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Right in the heart of Naples, a small piazza surrounds the great Castel Capuano, built in 1140 by order of King William I. Before you take to one of the palm-fringed cafes where locals sip rosé and enjoy la dolce vita, we recommend a look indoors. Castel Capuano is the second oldest in the city and boasts a stunning courtyard, the Formiello fountain and a gallery filled to the brim with frescoes. Recommended by local insider Debbie Oakes
Few places in Naples are as distinctive as this landmark. The Medieval masterpiece was commissioned by Charles I of Anjou in the 13th century and has withstood years of weather damage and neglect. One of the city’s most famous legends involves a crocodile that infiltrated the castle through a hole in the moat’s walls, keen to feast on prisoners – a cautionary tale, perhaps. Crocs aside, the castle is now home to the Civic Museum and the library of the Neapolitan Society of Homeland History, though it’s mostly popular for Giotto’s historic frescoes. Inside the Armoury Room, visitors are also privy to Roman ruins that lay under a glass floor. Recommended by local insider Debbie Oakes
If you like epic views, ancient ruins and rocky islands, Castello Aragonese should be on your radar. Located on a small island connected to Ischia by a stone bridge, the entire fortress is surrounded by blue water, suspended between sky and sea. Guided tours are available, including access to the 11th-century crypt. The courtyards, meanwhile, brim with clusters of olive trees and flowers, making this one of the most visited castles in Italy – understandably. Recommended by local insider Debbie Oakes