THE ARAGONESE CASTLE
The Aragonese Castle is a fortification built on a rocky islet trachytic place on the eastern side of the island of Ischia, connected by a stone bridge 220 m long old Borgo of Celsa, now known as Ischia Ponte.
The island on which was built the castle comes from an eruption occurred over 300,000 years ago. It reaches a height of 113 meters above sea level and covers an area of about 56,000 m2.
The castle is entered through a tunnel, dug in the rock and wanted to half of the fifteenth century by Alfonso of Aragon. Before then, access was only possible by sea via a ladder located on the north side of the islet. The tunnel is 400 meters long and the path is lit by skylights high at that time also acted as “machicolations” through which boiling oil dropped, stones and other materials on any enemies. The next stretch is a trail that winds up outside and leads to the summit of the island.
From this minor road branching paths leading to the various buildings and gardens. Since the seventies of the twentieth century is also running an elevator, whose path is carved into the rock and reaches 60 meters above sea level.
The construction of the first castle dates back to 474 BC under the name of Castrum Gironis or Castle Pool, in honor of its founder. In that year, I told the greek Hiero the tyrant of Syracuse rendered assistance with its fleet in the war against the Cumans Tirreni, contributing to their defeat off the waters of Forio, Ischia. Debtors of this intervention, the Cumans then decided to reward allies cedendogli the entire island.
The fortress was later occupied by Partenopei, but in 315 BC The Romans managed to wrest from them control of the island and founded the colony of Aenaria. The castle was used as a defensive fort, and there were also built some houses and high towers to monitor the movement of enemy ships.
In later centuries the fortress of Hiero was radically transformed in order to serve as a safe haven for people against looting foreign populations. Arso The eruption of 1301 provided a strong incentive for the development of urban settlement, destroyed the city of Geronda, which stood in the area where the pine forest vegetation present, the Ischia took refuge in the castle which guaranteed peace of mind and security, giving created a haven in which to live.
It has a modern appearance to the Aragonese Castle, a solid square shape, with walls provided with four towers. Starting from the old male Angevin, Alfonso of Aragon in 1441 gave birth to a structure that ricalcava that of Angevin Naples.
The king built a wooden bridge that connected the island to the main island, were also made strong walls and fortifications within which nearly all the people of Ischia found shelter and protection during the raids of pirates.
Inside the building are placed the actual accommodation and those reserved to the courtiers, the troops and servants. At the foot of the castle was instead placed a blockhouse, used as a district officer of the garrison to the maneuvers of the drawbridge.
The heyday of the structure occurred in the late sixteenth century in which 1892 families lived there, the convent of Poor Clares, the abbey of Greek monks, the bishop and the chapter with the seminar, the prince with the garrison.
There were 13 churches including the cathedral, where December 27, 1509 hosted the wedding between Francesco Ferrante d’Avalos, Marquis of Pescara, commander of the imperial troops of Charles V, and the poet Vittoria Colonna.
The stay of Vittoria Colonna in the Castle, from 1501 to 1536, coincided with a moment culturally very happy for the whole island: the poet was in fact surrounded by the best artists and writers of the century, including Michelangelo Buonarroti and Ludovico Ariosto. In the second half of 1700, when the danger of pirates, people began to leave the castle, looking for a more comfortable living in various towns of the island to take better care of the main economic activities: land cultivation and fishing. .
In 1809 British troops besieged the island, under French command, and shelled it up to almost completely destroy it. In 1823 Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies and member of the Bourbon dynasty, withdrew the last 30 inhabitants, the fortress Convert the value back to a place of punishment for convicts and transformed the rooms into accommodation for prison guards. The castle became, from 1851, a prison for conspiring against the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
In 1860, with the invasion of Giuseppe Garibaldi, Ischia was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy and the political prison was suppressed.
On June 8, 1912 the administration of state property, private treaty, put the Aragonese Castle for sale at auction. Now the castle is open to the public.
VISITING THE CASTLE
Entrance on foot is through a gallery hewn from the rock by order of Alfonso of Aragon around 1447 or by sing the modern lift. Boiling oil and stones could be thrown down on any invaders from the overhear sky lights.
Passing the chapel of St. Barbara one arrives at the ex-prison. Many political prisoners were held here in 179. The main building Il Maschio housed the living quarters.
The ruined Cathedral still reflects the splendour of by-gone days. The famous poetess Vittoria Colonna married Ferrante D’Avalos here in December 1509.
In the interior of the Castle you can visit the church of the Immaculate from the 18th century, the Clarisse Convent with its cemetery dating from the 16th century, the crypt of the Cathedral with its 14th century frescoes attributed to the School of Giotto, the church of S. Peter a Pantaniello dating from the 16th century.
The church of St. Mary Grace with a panoramic terrace. Gothic arches can be seen on the exterior of the Maschio, ruins of the Temple of the Sun, defensive battlements and a weaponry square of the church of Santa Barbara.