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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 Gulf of Naples from naval attacks for centuries. Culture Trip’s local insiders have the scoop on which castles in and near Naples – from Castel dell’Ovo to Castello Aragonese – are most worth a visit.
Right in the heart of Naples, a small piazza surrounds the great Castel Capuano, a Renaissance structure built in 1140 by order of King William I. Before you take to one of the palm-fringed cafes where locals sit, sipping rosé and sighing over ‘la dolce vita’, we recommend a gander 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 distinguishable as this landmark. The medieval masterpiece was commissioned by Charles I of Anjou in 1266 and has withstood centuries 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 to feast on prisoners – though whether this was a cautionary tale or has some truth to it is up to you. Crocs aside, the castle is now home to the Civic Museum and the Library of the Neapolitan Society of History, though it’s mostly popular for Giotto’s historic frescoes. Inside the Armoury Room, visitors are also privy to Roman ruins that lie under a glass floor. Recommended by local insider Debbie Oakes
If you like epic views, ancient ruins and rocky islands all in one go, Castello Aragonese should factor high on your radar. Located on a small island that’s connected to Ischia by a stone bridge, Castello Aragonese offers guided tours and access to the 11th-century crypt. The entire fortress is surrounded by blue waters, suspended between sky and sea. Its courtyards brim with clusters of olive trees and flowers, and it is one of the most visited castles in Italy – with good reason. Recommended by local insider Debbie Oakes