The Aragonese Castle of Ischia island | Romantica Resort & Spa
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The Aragonese Castle of Ischia island

Ischia Island

The Aragonese Castle of Ischia island

The Castle is undoubtedly one of the historical and cultural symbols of the island of Ischia. 
For centuries its extraordinary beauty and unmistakable morphology have enchanted tourists from all over the world who enrich their stay on the green island with a visit to this jewel of the Gulf of Naples.

Below is a summary of its history, the most important and interesting points of interest and useful information for organizing a visit during your stay. We invite you to consult the website for more details. Foto: Alessandro Vasconi

THE HISTORY OF THE ARAGONESE CASTLE OF ISCHIA  

The first settlement in the area where the Castle rises dates back to the 5th century B.C. when Gerone "the Syracusan" landed in Ischia to help the Cumani, a population then settled on the island, to face the people of Tirreni.
It was after about a century that the glorious history of the green island began, when the Romans arrived and chose the bay of Cartaromana, adjacent to the Castle, to found their settlement, the city of Aenaria. 
The Romans also built some houses in the area of the Castle but it is still unclear for what purpose. In 150 AD. Arenaria sank into the sea as a result of a terrible volcanic eruption of Montagnone which caused the lowering of the soil, with the subsequent separation of the castle from the rest of the island. From that moment the area of the castle was named as "Insula minor" (Smaller Island) to distinguish it from the rest of the island named "Insula major" (Major Island).

The Castle became a fundamental symbol for the survival of the Ischians between the 5th and the 8th century A.D. when first the barbarians (Visigoths and Lombards) and then the Saracens invaded and sacked the island several times. The local population in fact, took refuge within the walls of the Castle to escape the violence of these unscrupulous plunderers. Fortunately none of them ever managed to conquer the fort.

In 1137 the island and its fortress passed under the dominion of the Normans whose ruler was Prince Roger II. 50 years later Henry VI of Swabia conquered Ischia and its castle and transformed the latter into his own residence and that of the noble families.

Starting from the 13th century AD, the Castle was the protagonist of several fights for the domination of the island and the Gulf. First between Swabians and Angevins who had the better of it and built on the remains of Aenaria the first port of the island and the bridge between the Castle and the island. Subsequently between Angevins and Aragonese, the latter, victorious in the clash, led by Alfonso I, transformed the castle into the official residence of the house in times of peace, while during periods of war,
they used it as a stronghold. 
It was during the Aragonese reign that the Castle reached its maximum splendor, especially thanks to the care of an excellent lady of the castle, Costanza d'Avalos, and the splendid Vittoria Colonna, who married Ferrante d'Avalos, Marquis of Pescara, within the walls of the Castle.

Ph: Alessandro Vasconi

With the end of the Aragonese the Castle passed to the Spanish and immediately after under the Austrian rule. 
In this period the population of the fort decreased because of the political stability that pushed the inhabitants of the island to move to cultivate the land and devote themselves to 
to trade. The castle remained the home of the Poor Clare nuns who for a long time devoted themselves to its maintenance.

The Spanish reconquered the Gulf of Naples and the island of Ischia in 1737 but even under their rule the depopulation of the castle did not stop. Only a few 
buildings, including the Maschio, the Cathedral of the Assunta, the bishop's palace and the convent of S. Maria della Consolazione of the Clarisse nuns continued to be used.
In 1799 the castle was restructured by the Bourbons who used it as a political prison for the Parthenopean kingdom before being the site of violent clashes between the Anglo-Bourbon and French forces which in 1809 reduced the castle to rubble.
The Bourbons, after having reoccupied the Castle, abandoned it for no reason and, following Murat's edict of 7 August 1809, even the 16 surviving Poor Clare nuns abandoned it. After these devastating events the Fort was used as a residence for retired soldiers until the arrival of Ferdinand I who decided to turn it into a sweet prison for lifers. In 1851 even those convicted of political crimes were transferred to the same prison, among the most illustrious were Michele Pironti, Carlo Poerio, Nicola Nisco, Silvio Spaventa, fervent opponents of the Bourbon regime.
With the unification of Italy, the prison was closed and the Castle became property of the State while the cultivable land was entrusted to the military Orphanage.

Ph: Alessandro Vasconi

In 1912 the Aragonese Castle of Ischia was sold at auction to the lawyer Mattera. The Mattera family made it their residence and began restoration work. In 1967 the whole area of the castle was subject to a restriction of absolute inedification as a heritage of national interest.
Between 1970 and 2000 Gabriele Mattera, his wife Karin and Antonio Mattera dedicated themselves to the requalification of the property by promoting restoration works and cultural initiatives of great interest. 
From 2000 onwards, the Castle was reopened to the public redeveloped, cleaned and faithfully restored. Many works are still being discovered and restored.

INFORMATION ON VISITS AND POINTS OF INTEREST OF THE ARAGONESE CASTLE OF ISCHIA

The entire tour is about 2 km long and the estimated time for the visit is about an hour and a half.
Here we list the most interesting points and a brief description of them. At the entrance you will be given an illustrative brochure showing all the points to visit and their correct location. 
to visit and their correct location. On the website you can learn more about what we propose below.

IL TERRAZZO DELL'IMMACOLATA

it is the first point of interest of the visit. Leaving the elevator on the left you can admire from this terrace the west side with its breathtaking view of the village of Ischia Ponte, Spiaggia dei Pescatori and Mount Epomeo.
Ph: Alessia Peraro for Romantica Resort 

LA CHIESA DELL'IMMACOLATA (THE CHURCH OF IMMACULATE)

this one is dedicated to Saint Francis. The architectural project was so expensive that the Church was never completed and to pay the most immediate expenses the Poor Clares were forced to sell part of the silverware of the convent. For this reason the internal walls of the Church are still completely white. Thanks to this peculiarity since 1980 the Church was designated to host contemporary art exhibitions. The idea came from Gabriele Mattera and his wife Karin and today it is carried on by the association "Amici di Gabriele Mattera".

IL CONVENTO DI S. MARIA DELLA CONSOLAZIONE 

the nuns of the castle were almost all of noble descent, firstborn daughters, destined to the cloistered life for matters of family heritage. The convent was closed in 1810 with the Murat law. The surviving nuns, after the clashes between the Anglo-Bourbon forces and the Spanish were transferred first in the Lanfreschi palace and then in the convent of Sant'Antonio.

THE NUNS' CEMETERY

it dates back to the 16th century and is probably the most lugubrious and sacred place in the Castle. It is located under the church of the Immacolata and can be reached through some narrow stairs. Here you can find intact the green stone chairs on which the deceased nuns were placed and left to drain their bodily fluids until decomposition before burial in the ossuary. This gloomy custom had the purpose of exalting the earthly component of the body as a mere container of the spirit. The cemetery was the destination of the daily prayers of the living nuns who, because of this custom, often contracted fatal diseases.
In the cemetery there are no windows, the ventilation system is guaranteed by the "ventarole", a typical and fascinating ventilation system made of narrow tunnels. The presence of this work has convinced scholars that, before being a cemetery, the rooms were cisterns for the conservation of rainwater.
Ph: Alessia Peraro for Romantica Resort & Spa

LA CASA DEL SOLE (THE SUN HOUSE)

It is one of the oldest buildings in the fort. Today it has been repurposed to house contemporary artwork and ancient artifacts. At the end of the visit you can admire the gardens of the house and its spectacular panoramic terraces.

LA CHIESA DI SAN PIETRO A PANTANIELLO (THE CHURCH OF SAN PIETRO A PANTANIELLO)

The Church was opened for worship in the 16th century and built by Dionisio Basso and designed by the architect called Il Vignola. The Church was named after the statue of the saint has been transferred to the castle from the "Church of San Pietro a Pantaniello". It was originally located in a church then abandoned near the area where, in 1851, the King of Naples, Ferdinand II of Bourbon, opened the current port of Ischia.

Ph: Alessia Peraro

WINEMAKING MILLSTONES

Palmenti are tanks used since ancient times for the procedure of wine making. They are located near the church of San Pietro a Pantaniello and are dated back to the period in which Ischians dedicated themselves to the cultivation of vine and to the production of wine.

THE BOURBON PRISON

This point indicates an ancient building transformed into a prison by the Bourbons of Naples in 1823 for common crimes, where, since 1851, were also locked up distinguished political prisoners opponents of the monarchy. 

LA CHIESA S. MARIA DELLE GRAZIE (CHURCH)

A church overhanging the sea of incredible beauty. It was enlarged in 1500 and dedicated to the fishermen of Ischia.

THE DEFENSE TOWER

This was the tower where people took shelter during the attacks of pirates and other invaders. It was possible to access it from the outside, in fact from the sea you can see the remains of ancient steps.

LA CHIESA DELLA MADONNA DELLA LIBERA (CHURCH)

The main structure of the church dates back to the 12th century. In 1301 the people of Ischia made a vow to the Madonna della Libera to escape the last eruption of Mount Epomeo. For this reason the Madonna was portrayed with outstretched hands as if intent on stopping the lava.
The present image existing in the Church is a perfect reproduction, by Antonio Cutaneo, of the original preserved in the Cathedral of Ischia, where it was transferred at the beginning of 1800.

LA CATTEDRALE DELL'ASSUNTA (THE CATHEDRAL OF THE ASSUNTA)

Here in 1509 the marriage between Vittoria Colonna and Ferrante d'Avalos was celebrated. The existing church was built in 1301 to replace the cathedral that was on the island, destroyed by the eruption of the Arso. The church was built on the remains of a previous church still present as the crypt of the new one.
In the 17th century the church was finely restructured with precious pieces and works of inestimable beauty which were however victims of the English bombings. What was recovered was transported to the Augustinian church of Santa Maria della Scala in Ischia Ponte while the structure spared by the events remained as testimony of the glorious past of the Castle.
The architectural spectacle turns out to be devoid of the main façade making the decorated walls and the intact parts of the church strongly exposed to the weather. Fortunately, several restorations are underway in order to ensure the recovery and preservation of this beauty. This cathedral is home to musical performances, exhibitions, readings and the Ischia Film Festival. The crypt of the cathedral has recently been the site of an amazing discovery, a walled room, used as an ossuary in times of plague, which has brought to light frescoes of incredible splendor.

THE EXIT GALLERY

It is a greaT gallery excavated with the chisel in the tuffaceous rock by Alfonso of Aragon in 1441. It is illuminated with skylights with a dual function, in addition to illuminating the gallery they had a defensive function. They allowed in fact to throw stones and hot pitch on the invading enemies. The gallery ends with the drawbridge that connects the castle to the bridge.

ENTRANCE FEE OF THE ARAGONESE CASTLE OF ISCHIA

  • Adults € 10.00
  • Groups (20+) € 9.00
  • Children 10-14 yrs € 6.00
  • Children 0-9 yrs free
  • Primary schools € 3.00
  • Middle and high schools € 6.00

BAR AND RESTAURANT OF THE ARAGONESE CASTLE 

At the Aragonese castle there are two refreshment points The Bar "The Terrace" +39 081 98 14 29 ilterrazzo@castelloaragonese.it
and "la Caffetteria aragonese" +39 081 99 25 81 caffetteria@castelloaragonese.it whose hours may vary from those of the Castle. 

 

Ph: Alessia Peraro for Romantica Resort

VISIT TIMES OF THE ARAGONESE CASTLE OF ISCHIA

It is open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. until sunset (you can write or call for details on closing time).
Last entrance is one hour before closing.

USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT THE ARAGONESE CASTLE OF ISCHIA 

There is an elevator to reach some of the places of interest. Pets are allowed. The route is almost entirely outdoors.
We recommend comfortable clothing and sneakers for the visit. It is possible to participate in guided tours for groups or individuals by advance reservation.

Phone +39 081 99 28 34
Messages +39 342 96 18 566
FB Castello Aragonese d'Ischia
IG castelloaragoneseischia
email segreteria@castelloaragonese.it

PLEASE NOTE:  Due to Covid-19 the Aragonese castle will be close till different comunication even during 2021.

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