The Aragonese castle of Ischia
The history of the Aragonese castle of Ischia: sinche it was built in 474 BC by Hiero I (the greek tyrant of Syracuse) to date.
- ADDRESS: In the island of Ischia, in the locality of Ischia Ponte.
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The Aragonese Castle of Ischia: the origins
The Aragonese Castle of Ischia is a fortress built upon the litle Islet large approximately 66,900 square yards and 370 feet above sea level.
It is made up of magmatic rock and it was formed after the eruption of about 300,000 years ago. The islet is connected to the Ischia Island by a little bridge: Ischia Ponte.
The first fortress was built in 474 BC. by the Greek Hiero I (tyrant of Gela and Syracuse), who helped the Cumaeans during the 2nd battle of Cuma: a naval battle against the Etruscans (also called Tyrrhenians), who wanted to conquer their land.
After clearing the invaders, Hiero I obtained the entire island of Ischia as a reward, including the islet connected to it.
In 315 BC after the Samnite wars the Empire of Rome extended his rule to include Cuma and the entire Campania region, including the island of Ischia, on which was founded the city of Aenaria.
The castle of Ischia was used to defend the island. Houses with high towers were also built on the ilset for the sighting of enemy ships.
Later, the island of Ischia was won and plundered by various foreign peoples: barbarians, goths, vandals, normans, swabians and angevins who one after another changed the original appearance of the fortress. Every time a new invader tried to conquer the island, the inhabitants always took refuge within the walls of the fortress, in the citadel.
In 1301 there was the eruption of Mount Epomeo and the inhabitants of Ischia had to take refuge within the walls of the fortress, a safe place. In this way a real medieval town was formed within the walls of the castle.
Later, during the occupation by the Aragonese, the castle has been modified, by Alfonso I of Aragon, and took the form that it has today: a quadrangular shape with four towers. A bridge was created to connect the islet to the island of Ischia. The walls of the fortress were fortified and the machicolations have been created too, through which one can throw on eventual aggressors oil and rocks. A real citadel was also built, capable of hosting most of the Ischitans and protecting them from continuous attacks by pirates.
At the end of the 16th century, 1892 families lived in the castle, there was the convent of the Poor Clares, the bishop with the chapter, an abbey of the monks, 12 churches, a cathedral and the prince with the garrison.
In the first half of the 1500s there were some artists who stayed inside the castle. Some of them are Ludovico Ariosto and Michelangelo Buonarroti (known best as simply Michelangelo).
Later, around 1750, the inhabitants of the castle moved to live on the island of Ischia. Now safer because for the moment there were no more attacks from conquerors.
In 1809 there was an invasion by the British who attacked the castle with cannon shots. The fortress was almost completely destroyed.
In 1823 Ferdinand I, king of the 2 Sicilies, brought the last 30 resident families out the castle, so he turned the fortress into a life sentence. Later, in 1851 he turned again. It was converted into a political prison for conspirators against the kingdom.
In 1861 there was the union of the kingdom of Italy with the island of Ischia annexed to it. So the political prison was suppressed.
In 1912 the Aragonese castle of Ischia was sold at auction by the state property department.
From that moment the new owners manage it and take care of the restorations. Even today the castle is open to the public for tourist visits.