The Aragonese Castle
This huge cliff, celebrated by Ludovico Ariosto and inhabited by Vittoria Colonna, represents the emblem itself of the Island of Ischia, due to its extraordinary beauty
If castles are fascinating, the Aragonese Castle of Ischia is even more mysterious, as it stands out of the sea, detached from the rest of the island. But it maintains a strong bond with the island, which goes beyond the bridge – umbilical cord that connects it physically to Ischia Ponte. Its old name was “insula minor”, matched with insula major, which clearly indicates that it is a different place, a small island beside the mother island. But it was precisely its further insularity that allowed the Castle to keep the genius loci, the historical identity of a wider territory. Most of the events, the battles and Ischian courtly life took place here, on top of this cliff in the middle of the sea, and this can be perceived also by whoever does not know its history. It is enough to cast a glance at the Aragonese Castle to feel like being back in time, in the dreamlike Middle Ages or in a Renaissance coterie, periods that have left more than a trace here.
The ancient walls, the churches, the ramparts of Ischia Castle were built mainly between the 14th and 17th centuries. They blend perfectly with the islet’s dark and indented rock-face, which is also an extraordinary tower garden. When climbing up the Castle, in fact, you discover another world. The austere and closed aspect one beholds from the ground gives way to a citadel made up of sunny gardens and small tracks that always lead to incredible views. The Castle top smiles, animated by sea birds and big cats, olive groves and vineyards. In spite of its reputation, the Castle has today a heart that can be conquered by everybody who climbs its 113 metres by foot or by elevator.
But only when you are on the top can you enter Ischia’s history.
Cocooned in the mystery of time, you will find the 16th-century cathedrals and churches, frescoed catacombs, arches and vaults, walls of many centuries, Bourbon prisons. The silence of the Castle speaks with words in the shape of architecture, like a giant stone book to leaf through with no hurry.