Castel Sant’Elmo

Castel Sant’Elmo | A Majestic Hilltop Fortress

Located at Vomero Hill, Castel Sant’Elmo is a star-shaped fortress that offers a fascinating blend of history, architecture, and breathtaking views. Built in the 14th century, this castle has transformed over time while serving as a church, a royal residence, a military stronghold, and even a prison. Its unique design with pointed bastions made it a formidable defence structure. Today, it stands as a symbol of the rich heritage of Naples.

From the castle, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the Sorrento Peninsula, especially at sunset. Inside the castle, the Museo del Novecento houses over 4,000 works of 20th-century Italian art, showcasing styles like Futurism and Nuclear Art. The castle also hosts a variety of cultural events, including art exhibitions, concerts, and conferences.

Why Visit Castel Sant’Elmo?

Expansive Views- Sitting on the top of Vomero Hill, Castel Sant’Elmo offers breathtaking views of the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the gorgeous city below.

Architectural Uniqueness- Shaped like a star, the fortress has pointed bastions that not only looked beautiful but also helped with defence. Its strategic location provided a clear view of any approaching danger.

Sunset Point- You can experience magical sunsets from the vantage point of Castel Sant’Elmo. It is best to plan your visit in the late afternoon for front-row seats to this stunning sight.

Interesting History- Originally a fortress, it housed Spanish royalty and served as the seat of the Neapolitan Republic. It was also a prison in the 19th and 20th centuries. Now, it is a central part of the museum network of Campania and Naples.

Museo del Novocento- Inside the castle, Museo del Novocento displays 20th-century artworks, including Futurism and Nuclear Art. It is a journey through the artistic evolution of Naples.

History of Castel Sant’Elmo

Castel Sant’Elmo has a long history dating back to 1275 when it was constructed during the time of Charles of Anjou. In 1329, it was called Belforte, and King Robert of Naples expanded it further. It was known as a castle by 1343. After being badly damaged by an earthquake in 1456, the Aragonese rulers rebuilt it between 1537 and 1547. They ordered the architect Pedro Luis Escriva to make it into a hexagonal star shape. Although the design was special, it faced criticism and was well-suited for defence. 

Later, it became a military outpost with a governor who had full control over the castle. It also held a church, officers’ quarters, and a munitions depot. In 1587, lightning struck and caused an explosion while destroying parts of the castle. It was rebuilt from 1599 to 1601 by Domenico Fontana.

Over the centuries, it was a symbol of government power and was used as a prison until 1952. Afterwards, it was restored and opened to the public in 1982. Today, it houses art exhibits and administrative offices and offers stunning views of Naples and the bay.

Castel Sant’Elmo Highlights

Admire The Architecture

Castel Sant’Elmo has a unique six-pointed star design, which is a special feature of military buildings. This design made it difficult for the enemies to attack successfully. As you walk around the castle, you can see its impressive ramparts and deep moats. Exploring and admiring the architecture allows you to understand how the castle protected Naples in the past.

Museum of the '900

 Museum of the ‘900 houses one of the largest collections of 20th-century Italian art. It has around 4,000 pieces of Neapolitan art that showcase contemporary, spatialism, and futurism styles. Some standout works in the museum include Eugenio Viti's sensual "La Schiena," Raffaele Lippi's dramatic "Le Quattro Giornate di Napoli," and Giuseppe Desiato's striking photo "Monumento.

Enjoy Panoramic Views

Since Castel Sant’Elmo is situated on top of Vomero Hill, it offers stunning views of the Neapolitan countryside and the city. You can also see the Capri Islands and the Sorrento peninsula. If you go to the attraction on a clear day, you will even get a chance to witness Mount Vesuvius. The terrace of the castle is a perfect spot to take beautiful pictures of the surrounding views.

Cultural Events and Exhibitions

 Castel Sant’Elmo is not just a regular monument, but a lively cultural centre. Here, you will find the Museum of the 20th Century, which brings art installations and performances to the fortress. You can check the schedule for ongoing events and exhibitions. It is a great way to experience art and culture while exploring the castle. 

Plan your visit to Castel Sant’Elmo

Essential Information

Timings- Castel Sant’Elmo is open from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. The museum is open from 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. but remains closed on Tuesdays. It also remains closed on 25th December and 1st January.

Location- Castel Sant’Elmo is located at Via Tito Angelini, 20/A, 80129 Napoli NA, Italy.

Best time to Visit: The ideal time to visit Castel Sant'Elmo is during spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when Naples enjoys mild and pleasant weather. These periods offer comfortable temperatures and fewer tourists, enhancing your experience as you explore the fortress and take in the stunning panoramic views of the city and Bay of Naples.

  • Audio guides
  • Cloakroom
  • Coffee bar
  • Elevator
  • Library and photo library
  • Multimedia stations
  • Paid parking
  • Restrooms
  • Teaching room
  • Wheelchairs
  • Castel Sant’Elmo offers wheelchair accessibility in some areas, but the wheelchairs are available upon request. 
  • People with reduced mobility can opt for a funicular ride to the castle. 
  • If you are travelling with kids, you must know that there are no prams available inside the premises of the castle.
  • Local visitors must show their ID upon visiting the castle.
  • International visitors should show their passport and visa details.
  • Pets are not permitted inside the castle.
  • Smoking, alcohol, and drugs are not allowed.
  • Do not carry heavy luggage like trolleys or backpacks.

Tickets: Purchase tickets online in advance to avoid long lines, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Wear Comfortable Shoes: The castle grounds are extensive and involve a fair amount of walking, so wear comfortable footwear.

Photography: Bring a camera to capture the stunning panoramic views of Naples and the Bay of Naples from the castle’s vantage points.

Guided Tours: Consider taking a guided tour to learn more about the history and significance of the fortress.

Facilities: Restrooms and a café are available on-site; plan for a refreshment break.

Accessibility: Note that some areas of the castle may not be easily accessible for visitors with mobility issues.


What do Castel Sant’Elmo tickets include?

The standard tickets for Castel Sant’Elmo include entry to the castle and the Museo del Novecento. If you are looking for something more, you can get combo tickets that also let you visit the San Martino Charterhouse. You can even buy Artecards to see more of Naples and the Campania region.

What is the best time to visit Castel Sant’Elmo?

Castel Sant’Elmo is a popular tourist destination that can be visited throughout the year. However, the best time to visit the attraction is early in the morning, exactly when it opens at 9 a.m. During this time, the weather remains cool and there are fewer crowds to explore Castel Sant’Elmo comfortably. You can take your time and see everything at the attraction at your own pace.

How long does it take to complete a Castel Sant'Elmo tour?

It will take you around 3 to 4 hours to take a complete tour of Castel Sant’Elmo, including the museum. This time frame gives you enough time to see and walk through the attraction. If you only want to see the castle, you can finish the tour in less than 2 hours. 

Why is Castel Sant Elmo famous?

Castel Sant’Elmo is famous for its amazing views of Naples and the bay. It used to be a military prison until the 1970s. Now, it has the Museo del Novecento, which shows 20th-century Neapolitan art. The castle is also important for its medieval architecture and history. It has played a key role in protecting the city over the centuries.

Is Castel Sant'Elmo worth visiting?

Yes, Castel Sant’Elmo is absolutely worth visiting. Many people love it for the spectacular views of Naples, the bay, and nearby islands, especially the beautiful sunsets. The castle in itself is an interesting place to explore with your friends and family.

The content and images used on this site are copyright protected and copyrights vests with the respective owners.

© 2024 All rights reserved.