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Piazza del Municipio

The port of Naples has been protected by this odd, beautiful castle, looming over the harbour behind the Palazzo Reale and San Carlo, for some 700 years now.

Charles of Anjou built it in 1279: many Neapolitans still call it by the curious name of Maschio (male) Angioino. Most of what you see today, however, including the eccentric, ponderous round towers, is the work of Guillermo Sagrera, the great Catalan architect who built the famous Exchange in Palma de Mallorca.

Between two of these towers at the entrance, the conquering Aragonese hired the finest sculptors from all over Italy to build Alfonso's Triumphal Arch, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture and design inspired by the Triumphal Arch, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture and design inspired by the Triumphal arches of the ancient Romans.

The symbolism, as in the Roman arches, may be a little confusing. The figure at the top is Saint Michael; below him are a matched pair of sea gods, and further down, allegorical virtues and relief panels portraying Alfonso's victories and wise governance.