Visit Castel dell’Ovo in Naples: tickets, prices, opening hours

Visiting the City of the Sun? Here’s our guide to Castel dell’Ovo in Naples!

Located in the Santa Lucia district of Borgo Marinari, Castel dell’Ovo is the oldest castle in Naples. Set on the small island of the Megaride, it is a magnificent testimony to the foundation and history of this Italian city, since it was here that the Greek settlers from Cumae founded the original nucleus of Naples. Connected to the rest of the city by a tiny rocky path beaten by the waves of the harbour, you can’t fail to visit this emblematic monument of the city!

But what are you going to see in this « Castle of the Egg »? From its glorious past to practical information, timetables and prices, we reveal everything you need to know to visit Castel dell’Ovo in Naples in the best possible conditions!

History of Castel dell’Ovo

In the early days of Greek settlement in Campania, the Megaride was an anchorage point for settlers arriving in the 7th century BC. Later, the heart of the future Naples moved eastwards. Nevertheless, the small island remains an important place, since in the 1st century BC, the wealthy Roman patrician Lucius Licinius Lucullus built a magnificent villa here: the Castellum Lucullanum.

Famous for its sumptuous banquets, the villa became an imperial possession after the patrician’s death. The Western emperor Valentinian III reinforced the walls at the beginning of the 5th century to make a fortress capable of defending the city during this troubled period. The villa, which became Castrum Lucullanum, soon became the place of exile of the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustule, deposed in 476 by Odoacre.

At the end of the 5th century, monks also settled on the islet, renamed San Salvatore, and founded a monastery there. From this period until the 12th century, the history of Castel dell’Ovo is poorly known. The fortifications were probably destroyed and rebuilt several times, not least to prevent the Saracens from using the Megaride as a strategic outpost to invade the town and Campania.

After the Normans took Naples in 1140, King Roger made the islet his royal residence. This marked the birth of Castel dell’Ovo, a veritable citadel and small fortified town. However, it did not acquire this name until the 13th century, when Charles d’Anjou moved the royal residence from Castel dell’Ovo to the newly built Castel Nuovo (New Castle).

The chateau then took on its current architecture, that of a low fortress, notably to better resist artillery bombardment. This was certainly the case during the Italian Wars, when it was shelled by the French and Spanish. During the 19th century, a small fishing village, Borgo Marinari, was established along the southern wall of the castle. It is still there today, known for its marina and restaurants.

The castle’s name, « Château de l’œuf », comes from a medieval legend recounted by the poet Virgil. According to this legend, a sorcerer placed a magic egg under the castle’s foundations. If this egg were to disappear or be broken, the fortress would collapse, bringing about the fall of Naples.

What to see and do at Castel dell’Ovo, Naples

Your visit to Castel dell’Ovo is bound to start with a stroll along the hundred-meter-long stone path linking the castle to the mainland. Many newlyweds come along this path for the traditional photo session, such is the charm of the place.

You can then enter the castle. Here, you can discover the impressive stone-columned passageway of the Sale delle Colonne, or admire the collections of the Prehistory Museum. The latter is dedicated to the local population, and collects ceramics, clothing and other objects that belonged to the ancient civilizations of the area.

Your visit will take you through a meandering network of alleyways and staircases tothe covered walkway, the Norman tower, the master tower and the rest of the keep. You’ll also discover the remains of a beautiful little church. At the top of the Castel dell’Ovo towers, you can admire the imposing cannons that were used to defend the town from numerous invaders.

From these towers or from the ramparts, you can enjoy superb views and panoramas of Naples, its port, the bay and even Vesuvius in the distance. Some consider this to be the best viewpoint in Naples, especially from the large round tower outside the castle walls!

Finally, before leaving the resort, take a stroll through the ancient village of Borgo Marinari. This seafront promenade is home to numerous cafés and restaurants. As you dine here, you can continue to enjoy a superb panorama of the city in the distance.

How do I get to Castel dell’Ovo in Naples?

To visit Castel dell’Ovo in Naples, you’ll need to go to Via Parte-nope in the Santa Lucia district. Once there, simply walk along the stone jetty linking the mainland to the castle, located next to the Borgo Marinari.

By public transport

To reach the Castel, you can use Naples’ public transport system.

  • By bus

You can stop at « Santa Lucia » or « Chiatamone » stations on lines 128, 140, 154 and N1.

  • By metro

The castle can also be reached from the « Municipio » metro station on line 1, which also serves Castel Nuovo. You’ll need to walk about 20 minutes to reach the castle, or take bus line 154.

By car or cab

You can also reach the castle by car or cab, giving the following address: Via Eldorado, 3, 80132 Napoli NA, Italy.

Good to know

Places are scarce and not free. To organize your transfers, you can use the Google Maps application.

Castel dell’Ovo opening hours & rates in Naples

Castel dell’Ovo

Photo Credit: Flickr -Andres Alvarado

SCHEDULES

In summer, you can visit the Castel dell’Ovo in Naples:

  • 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays
  • 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on public holidays and Sundays

In winter, you can visit the castle:

  • 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays
  • 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on public holidays and Sundays

RATES

You don’t have to pay to visit the Castel dell’Ovo in Naples. The Museum of Prehistory, however, is not free. Admission depends on the temporary exhibitions.

You can also choose to take a guided tour of this emblematic monument. You’ll learn more about the castle’s history and architecture, as well as the myths that surround its name. It is sometimes possible to combine a visit to Castel dell’Ovo with one or more of Naples’ other monuments, such as Castel Nuovo, its successor as royal residence.

Good to know

The last entrance is 30 minutes before closing time. After this time, it is no longer possible to enter the castle. The alternating summer and winter periods coincide with the changeover to summer and winter time.

Peak hours are from 3pm to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest.

Allow at least an hour to visit Castel dell’Ovo. The visit can last longer if you linger in front of the panoramic views or at Borgo Marinari.

– One of the best times to visit Castel dell’Ovo is at sunset, when the already sublime panoramas are tinged with tawny hues. For amateur and experienced photographers alike, this is a great time to take in the interesting light.

The château is not very accessible for people with reduced mobility. However, some parts of the château are equipped with elevators to facilitate access.