Barons’ Hall, Castel Nuovo, Naples, Italy

Up a long staircase in the courtyard of the Castel Nuovo in Naples, the Barons’ Hall is a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture – in southern Italy.

With a massive groin vault, the ceiling is unique in that its keystone is actually open in the middle with a small skylight. I have seen many Gothic vaults in the world, but never have seen this.

The room, now the meeting room for the city council of Naples, is now largely unadorned; perhaps originally large tapestries or frescoes covered the walls.

Civic architecture can make the difference between having a boring city, and a city that truly inspires its residents and visitors.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. samizdat says:

    I believe that the skylight may more properly be referred to as an oculus, like the Pantheon in Rome (oddly, Spellcheck doesn't even know there is such a word, and neither does the Webster's Collegiate Dictionary from my freshman year in HS, at SLUH, ca. '78). The iron or steel strapping is a curious thing. I wonder if it is an earthquake resistance/proofing modification, or simply is there to reinforce an extant structural deficiency. I envy you your travels to Italy. On the other hand, I don't think I would truly be satisfied with just a week's tourist stay. I'd rather be one of those architecture students who goes to study in Europe of a summer, and spends his/her free time sketching everything in sight with pencil and charcoal. Thanks for all of the postings of your travels abroad. They have been entertaining.

  2. Chris says:

    Yes, that would be an oculus; thanks for pointing that out. It makes me wonder if they were looking at the Pantheon in Rome at this time for inspiration.

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