One of the most important attractions on the Island of Ischia, and the monument that characterizes it and makes it recognizable in the whole world, is the Aragonese Castle. Its name originally was Castrom Gironis, probably because of the wall circling both the castle and the small isle it was built on; or after Hiero of Syracuse, the creator of the first settlement in the fifth century BC. In the following you find all the useful informations needed to cvisit it in all its splendor!
History of the Aragonese Castle
The Aragonese Castle is situated on a small rocky isle which is connected to the main island of Ischia by a stone bridge, more than 200 meters long. The construction of the original nucleus goes back to 471 BC, when the Cumans decided to donate it to Hiero I of Syracuse, who in turn had aided them in defeating the Thyrrenians. In 315 BC the stronghold passes over to the Romans, who found there the colony of Aenaria, in order to create a refuge for the local inhabitants during the frequent invasions of various enemies. However, the structure of castle how we know it today, was built by the Aragonese in 1441 by order of Alfonso V of Aragon, and based on the original ruins of the Angevins, in an attempt to make a copy of the Maschio Angoino in Naples. Likewise he ordered the construction of the bridge connecting the castle to the main island, first in wood and subsequently in stone; up to that moment the castle could be reached only by boat. At the end of the XVI century, the castle was inhabited by nearly 1900 families and life at court is described as being particulary happy an wealthy. By the second half of the 18th century however, after the pirate raids had come to an end, the most part of the inhabitants moved to more comfortable housings on the major island. At the beginning of 1800 the castle was bombarded by the English troops and in 1823 Ferdinand I casts out the last inhabitants, to transform the castle into a jail for political dissidents. It then remains such until the unification of Italy when political prisons were suppressed. In 1912 the state sells the castle and from then on becomes private.property.
The Aragonese Castle today
In 1912, the lawyer Nicola Ernesto Mattera purchases the Aragonese castle, has it skillfully restructured, and little by little succeeds in bringing back not only the original structure of the main building but also of all the other ruined buildings present on the isle, while taking up residence there himself. After his death the whole propriety goes to his three children, and particulary his sons Antonio and Gabriele make the castle into a splendid and important location for many cultural events and a priviledged movie set. From 1990 onward, the structure is opened to public and the first guided tours are organized. Today it is the third generation of the Mattera family to manage the castle, open 365 days a year. They have been able to recognize the importance of the structure, not only for the local comunity, but also for the entire Italian culture, and have transformed it into the ideal frame for a full program of various events, going from theater to fashion and culminating in the most awaited annual appointment: the Ischia Film Festival.
How to get to the Aragonese Castle
You should not stay on the island of Ischia without planning a tour at the castle, so it is important to know how and when to organize such a visit.
The castle is situated in the oriental area of the island and is connected by a stone bridge to the village of Ischia Ponte, once known by the name Borgo di Celsa. On the map of the island of Ischia you can easily see that the castle is located quite far from the harbour, so if you are staying in this area or simply are planning a visit, it's advisable to rent a car or scooter in order to move around faster and easier. This way it will also be possible to combine a tour of the castle with a visit of other points of interest on the island of Ischia, without stress or depending on public transportation.
Aragonese Castle: opening hours and entrance fee<
The Aragonese Castle is open every day throughout the year from 9 AM to sunset. The last access is possible up to one hour before closing time, considering that being the amount of time estimated to see and enjoy all the important particularities of the castle. The cost of the full ticket is € 10 but there is a discount for groups ( € 9 for one ticket, maximum 20 persons), € 6 from 10 to 14 years and small children have free entrance. Finally, there are special prices for school groups. The tour is guided in such a way that all participants will learn in detail about the history and will discover all the hidden and fascinating sights of the structure. It's not rare to see the members of the Mattera family participating at the guided tours, for a testimony in first person and to see one of the most beautiful monuments in southern Italy in a new way.
How to organize a vist to the Aragonese Castle the best way
The visit to the Aragonese Castle is a unique experience which needs time to be organized in order to enjoy it the best way. The entire tour is about 2 km long, so it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes to move around easily on the itinerary. Throughout the tour there will be two stops at the bars present on the castle, for refreshment while enjoying the beautiful view of the major island. Furthermore, ther is a shop where you can buy refined artifacts and souvenirs. The most part of the tour will take place externally and is characterized by steps and slopes therefore it is not suitable for people with deambulatory problems. Nevertheless, it is possible to reach beautiful panoramic areas inside the castle, asking for assistance from the specialized staff. The guided tours can be booked contacting directly the office of the structure.