Saint Elmo Catle is a medieval castle, located on the Vomero hill near San Martino in Naples. It was called Paturcium and stands in the place where there was, starting from the 10th century, a church dedicated to Saint Erasmo (hence Eramo, Ermo and later Elmo). This mighty building (the first castle by extension of the city), partly obtained from the living rock (Neapolitan yellow tuff), originates from a Norman observation tower called ‘Belforte’. Due to its strategic importance, the castle has always been a very coveted possession: from its position (250 m a.s.l.) you can see the whole city, the gulf, and the roads that lead to the city from the surrounding hills.
The castle represents one of the most significant examples of sixteenth-century military architecture. It took on its current appearance following the fortification works commissioned by the viceroy Don Pedro of Toledo and carried out on a project by the architect Luigi Scrivà. The latter conceived a star shape plan with six points that protrude twenty meters from the central part and placed, in place of the tie rods, huge gunboats open in the recessed corners. This unusual military structure without towers, which aroused much criticism at the time of construction, has proved to be very functional over the years. Surrounded by a moat it was equipped with a large cistern for water supply. Before the moat there is a small church dedicated, in 1682 by the Spanish, to Nostra Signora del Pilar. On the piperno portal stands the imperial coat of arms of Charles V, with the double-headed eagle and a marble inscription that recalls his reign and the viceregal period of Pedro di Toledo, Marquis of Villafranca. Seven loopholes ensured the defense of the drawbridge guards should they be attacked before they could close the bridge.
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