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Restoration and development programme

rose window of the church closed by opaque glass and decorated with metal ornaments
Mattia Forcymania (1469-70), rose window of the Palatine Chapel

The basic priorities for restoration and reclaim work can be summarised as follows:

1. To create on the courtyard level a new visitors' route taking in the most impressive outdoor features, which also integrates the present visitors' route (mainly limited to the courtyard) with the Barons' Hall and the Palatine Chapel. To bring back into use a walk along the battlements, the original belvedere that winds its way around the towers, appears to be quite feasible simply by reopening certain passageways or eliminating incongrous impediments.

It would be extremely effective to open the route which, beyond the "portico" - a kind of telescope pointing to the sea enlivened by Catalan portals below the Barons' Hall - leads to the hanging terrace running along the eastern side and beside the apse of the Palatine Chapel, joining up (through vaulted spaces o clear 15th-century design) with the surviving terrace towards the wet dock and the adjacent lower loggia. The relationship between the castle and the sea shown in the Strozzi drawing as characterising the building will be caught from the opposite view. The reclaiming of the southern battlement walk between the Gold Tower and the Watch Tower will bring back into the route a large terrace overlooking S. Lucia, the royal gardens and, in the background, Pizzofalcone.

2.  With appropriate security measures for the battlements, to open to public view the roof terrace of the north wing, which continues in a right angle towards the west on the body of the building behind the façade towers (the Incoronata or S. Giorgio Tower, the Middle Tower and the Watch Tower), with other new panoramic views of S. Elmo, Toledo and the dome of the Gallery, as well as of the buildings and domes of the old town.

Apart from the reopening of the spiral 15th-century stairway with its central pillar in the NW corner of the courtyard, the existing structure of the lifts will be redesigned since its shape and colour are unacceptable - this in order to get up to the top terrace, the new ones being oil-pressure lifts with a bare tufo stone casing.

vault of the castle with eight arches
Guillén Sagrera, vault of the Barons' Hall

3. To carry out repairs on the octagon of the Barons' Hall, or the extraordinary and relatively unknown sentry's walk that winds around the hall, just beyond the impost of the splendid umbrella vaulted ceiling that the genius of Guglielmo Sagrera created. The gallery, with its many small square module openings, is of great archtectural significance and, in spite of the difficulty of access through the vaulted ambulatory which defines its structure, offers the vititor a real emotional experience by allowing him to see the great hall from above. Its opening to the public will require restoration of the elegant spiral staircase in the wall of the adjoining Beverello Tower, the castle's main tower which is grafted onto the corner of the great hall as if to guarantee its defence.

The octagon is linked both to the external north terrace through a passageway, and to the main vertical way up the various levels, as well as to the splendid spiral staircase with fluted extrados and with no central support by the stone column between the Palatine Chapel and the Barons' Hall. Its present state of conservation is bad and its restoration will significantly contribute to the hypothesized visitor's route, both from the functional point of view and from the emotional and psychological effect because it will restore to the castle one of its most significant traits.

Apart from angular rooms of various shapes, which should undergo restoration as soon as possible, the octagon has intrados windows which, when restored, will offer exceptional views of the sea.

4. To undertake restoration, at least, of those parts most in need of conservation, such as the castle's main tower, the Beverello Tower, which, though at the same level as the Barons' Hall, contains the "Angels' Hall", which is in quite good condition.This is a large square room with a wooden ceiling which was restored by Filangieri. The two upper halls of the tower have been completely neglected, have no windows or door frames, and is invaded by pigeons and guano. These circular domed halls, overlapped among them, are in need of consolidation work on the walls and the vaulted ceilings, including the decaying or ruined members of the frames and the wall hangings.

5. Restoration of the wall surfaces which have suffered from erosion caused by wind, salt and pollution agents in general, should be started on at once by setting up a partial experimental building yard for the emergency, so that restoration work on the wall coverings can be carried out in the short term.

ancient painting representing the castle and in the distance, on a hill a fortress
E.G. Papworth, View of Naples,1835

6. In agreement with the Archeological Superintendency, the Superintendency BB.AA.AA., on the basis of old maps previous to the "isolation" of the castle to its surroundings, is carrying out the surveys of the piazza and the exterior of the castle necessary for the verification of the stability of the base components of the ancient viceroy ramparts, also with the idea of creating an underground car park, in the hope that the Commune of Naples will make a proposal for such an initiative.

7. A programme of archeological research is necessary for the whole base  of the castle, both within the courtyard and at those points where it appears to be nothing but earthworks (north and west wings). All the base component zone nearest the sea, including the "mile" moat, the prisons, the crypt stairs, etc., should be examined and brough to light, freeing them of all obstructing materials, extending research to the lowest levels of the Beverallo Tower and the adjacent zone.

In conclusion, in order to become better acquainted with the castle from the archeological and morphological point of view, integrating with the rest the vast archive of documents published by Riccardo Filangieri, it is hoped to show the organic unity with which the planned work, though at different points of the monument, has been conceived within a general strategy for the cultural reclamation of this great and prestigious construction, which should be open to public viewing in connection with visits to the royal gardens by means of the intended permanent reopening of the stone bridge over Via Parco del Castello, the present-day Via Riccardo Filangieri di Candida.

painting representing ancient fishermen stopping on the wharf with nets and boats
Giacinto Gigante, the Naples wharf

In the Carlo V Hall, at the end of the route of the exhibition held by the architects who planned the restoration (Arnaldo Venditti, Cesare Cundari, Stefano de Pertis) stands a panel which summarizes through images the most significant aspects of the Aragonese castle: Alfonso the Magnanimous's Triumphal Arch, an expression of Renaissance culture in Naples (built from 1454 to '58 and from 1465 to '70), the Beverello Tower - the most important but least recognised due to the long period of neglect from which it is now hoped to be rescued by means of the project now being worked on - , dovetailed onto the Barons' Hall (shown on other panels), the innovative masterpiece of Guillén Sagrera (1452-54 and later), and finally the rose window of the Palatine Chapel by Matteo Forcymania (1469-70), the swan song of the late-Gothic Catalan style in Naples, deeply permeated with signs of the classicism because of the presence of Tuscan artists such as Giuliano da Majano (1485-90). He worked on the now-lost villa of Poggio Reale and the Capuano Gate, as well as on the chapels of the Monteoliveto church and the celebrated Arch, on the portals of the vestibule and of the Paltine Chapel, on the interior refliefs on the two-sided gate of the Triumph which gives access to the royal apartments and on the fine marble shrines of the chapel and the sacristy.

This iconographical collection ends with two contrasting images: a detail of the view of Naples from St. Elmo Castle drawn with extreme precision by the Swiss captain G. Heilmann de Rondchatel in 1841, and the view of the castle from the opposite direction of the dockyard in Giacinto Gigante's fascinating watercolour. It is a representation of the tumultuous life of the people by the sea below the imposing ancient regal construction of Angevin-Aragonese times, degraded to the rank of  barracks with the connected functions of military occupation. This effective work of the famous landscape painter allows us to underline the importance, so often undervalued, of the environmental values of the city's architecture - values which are so difficult to defend from the constant aggression of the consumerist innovations of our time and our society.

The castle, an ecceptional monument dominating the vast urban area, so often suffering from generalised antihistorical "isolation", poses more problems than his architectural restoration; problems related to an overall urban redesign and ro the castle's relationships with its surroundings.