Castello Aragonese – The Pride of Naples (History & Travel Tips)

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A magnificent fortification overlooking the breathtaking Bay of Naples, Castello Aragonese is a mesmerizing castle that simply captivates you. With its rich historical artifacts and picturesque walkways, the site compels you to stay and take a relaxing tour around. Let’s look at its history and current condition:

Castello Aragonese was featured in the film Men in Black: International (2019) as alien weapon dealer Riza’s ‘Fortified Fortress’.

A closer view of Castello Aragonese.
A closer view of Castello Aragonese. Abxbay, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Origins (5th & 4th Century BC)

Constructed by Hiero I of Syracuse in 474 BC, this castle is a monumental structure in Southern Italy. The castle, along with two towers, was constructed in order to limit the movement of the enemy’s fleets and was originally named Castrum Gironis. During this time the island was populated with the Parthenopean settlement of ancient Naples. The castle was briefly captured by the Romans in the 4th century BC but later taken back by the Parthenopeans. 

Castello Aragonese in the 1880s.
Castello Aragonese in the 1880s. Giorgio Sommer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Medieval Times

In the 15th century, the castle was updated during the reign of Alfonso V of Aragon. Alfonso connected the islet on which the castle is located with the bigger island of Ischia via a stone bridge, which replaced a wooden bridge that had been built in the same place earlier. He also fortified the walls to protect the people in the region from potential invasions by pirates.

A painting of Castello Aragonese.
A painting of Castello Aragonese. Pietro espasian, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

18th Century & Onwards

In the early 18th century, the island was inhabited by almost 2000 families which included the bishop, a Poor Clares covenant, Basilian monks, the prince, and the prince’s private military unit. The island also was home to a total of 13 churches. In the year 1809, the island fell under siege by British troops. Not long after, the island was bombarded with shells under the orders of the French, which caused great demolition and destruction. The castle was sold off to a private buyer in the 20th century and has since been a major tourist attraction in the region. 

The garden inside Castello Aragonese.
The garden inside Castello Aragonese. Haragayato, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Times

Currently, the castle is under the ownership of the third generation of the Mattera family and is the most widely visited castle in the region. The castle undergoes regular maintenance to keep it in the best shape and hosts numerous cultural events which bring the place to life with colors and lights. 

Castello Aragonese overlooking the isle of Ischia from its altitude-bound location.
Castello Aragonese overlooking the isle of Ischia from its altitude-bound location. Gerd Eichmann, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Interesting Castello Aragonese Facts

  • Castello Aragonese was featured in the film Men in Black: International (2019) as alien weapon dealer Riza’s ‘Fortified Fortress’.
  • The castle was called Castrium Gironis in its early years, Insula Minor in the Middle Ages, and Aragonese Castle after the Renaissance.
  • In the 19th century, the prison of the castle was used as a site for punishment for political prisoners who opposed the encroaching Neapolitan Republic. 
  • In 1967, a ban was put on any further construction on the castle by the State as they declared the site a national monument.

Visiting Castello Aragonese – Tips and Tricks

Naples is already a gorgeous destination to begin with, but if you’re in the mood for some cultural appreciation, then don’t forget to visit Castello Aragonese. Here’s a handy guide for you:

Visiting Tourist on their way to Castello Aragonese.
Visiting Tourists on their way to Castello Aragonese. Gerd Eichmann, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Castello Aragonese?

You can get to Castello Aragonese from Rome by three means: bus, train, and car. The most recommended and fastest way to go is via bus. The journey would take you around 3 hours and 35 minutes and cost you around €17.7 ($20 USD). You would board the bus from Rome and get off at Ortona, from where the castle is a quick 12-minute walk away. 

By train, the journey will take you a little under 5 hours and cost you between €17.7-€35.3 ($20-$40 USD). You would board the train at the terminal in Rome and get off at the station in Cortona, from where the castle is a 17-minute walk away. 

By car, the journey will take you about 2 hours and 10 minutes. You can expect the fuel cost to be around €35.3-€44 ($40-$50 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

The castle is open all year round, 7 days a week, from 9 a.m. till sunset. You can check the castle’s website to confirm the timings for your visit. 

The ticket costs €12 ($14 USD) per head, but children aged 9 and under and primary school students can enter for free. Children aged between 10 and 18, middle and high school students, and residents of Ischia get half off, €6 ($7 USD). Groups of 20 people or more as well as students between the age of 19 and 26 can get a ticket costing €10 ($12 USD).

A gorgeous view of the bay from the roof of Castello Aragonese.
A gorgeous view of the bay from the roof of Castello Aragonese. Saverio.G, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

The tour takes around an hour and a half.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • The tour involves a lot of walking and stair climbing, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes!
  • The castle is pet-friendly–as long as they are leashed.
  • Be mindful of the weather while planning your visit as most of the tour is open-air.
  • Make sure to visit the cafe and bookshop on the premises!

Quick Video Tour of The Main Castello Aragonese Areas

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Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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