The Aragonese Castle is the symbol of the Green Isle and of its history. The intriguing rock is a top tourist attraction.
The Aragonese Castle is Ischia’s main sight and symbol, forever witness to its vicissitudes. Tourists interested in the history of the Green Isle cannot miss visiting the rock; a place filled with traces that echo a past where myth, legend and mystery come together.
Throughout the centuries, the Castle has housed the courts of many noble men. The mark of these cultures is still visible in the buildings, ruins, and paths enclosed by the walls.
Built on a volcanic outcrop situated to the east of Ischia, the Aragonese Castle is connected to the main island by a 200-metre picturesque stone bridge that also allows small boats to reach the nearby Cartaromana bay. The bridge (“ponte” in Italian) inspired the name-change of the small town of Ischia Ponte, which was once called Borgo di Celsa (“Mulberry Town”, because of the abundance of mulberry bushes in the area). The rock can be accessed through a tunnel that was built by Alfonso V of Aragon at the end of the 15th century and excavated mostly by hand.
Erected in 400 b.C., for a long time the castle was known as Castrum Gironis (Castle of Hiero), by the name of the Sicilian tyrant who built it. Many different powers occupied the rock, until the Bourbons deployed it as a prison, which held the members of the 1848 Revolution, including the poet-activist Carlo Poerio.
Besides being the seat of the governor of the island, the rock was also a refuge for the inhabitants of Ischia, especially against pirate raids.
The rock is a sacred place and houses various churches, crypts, and monasteries, the most important being the Church of Immacolata, characterized by a big dome. The nearby terrace offers a splendid view of the picturesque town of Ischia Ponte and leads to the Nunnery of Clarisses. The underground cemetery was a site of praying and meditation, where nuns sat by the bodies of their dead sisters that were left to decompose on special stone thrones. Not to miss is also the half-destroyed Cathedral of Assunta, featuring baroque stuccos hiding 14th–century artworks that emerged during restoration, and an underground crypt with frescos attributed to members of the school of Giotto.
To enjoy a wonderful view of the sea dotted by the beautiful islands of Capri and Gaeta reach Terrazzo degli Ulivi.