Discover fascinating insights into the history of Taranto when you tour its old castle, an impressive stronghold that once defended the city from attacks.
For many years, Aragonese Castle was Taranto's main fortification. The late 15th-century waterfront stronghold was built on earlier Norman and Byzantine structures and designed to protect the town's canal. During its time, the castle has also been a prison and a navy barracks. Today, in addition to being a tourist attraction, it is also the headquarters of an Italian naval squadron. Explore its rooms, corridors and passageways and see relics that cover almost 3,000 years of history.
To reach the castle, walk across the swing bridge from Taranto’s modern quarter. As you enter the complex, turn to your left to see the renaissance Chapel of San Leonardo. Walk into the main courtyard and look at the barrel-vaulted rooms that were once military barracks. Stand by the royal stairs, so called because they were used by visiting kings. Elsewhere, view gun placements, cannons and cannon balls.
Visit the small room where prisoners used to be tortured. In its ceiling is a hole that let their pained cries echo around the castle to frighten other inmates. In some of the castle’s rooms, find artifacts that have been excavated from its grounds, such as ceramics from the 13th and 14th centuries.
The castle is open every day and access is via a guided tour, which is free. There are several tours throughout the day and night and they last for approximately 90 minutes. Most of them are in Italian, but some tours are conducted in English. To ensure that you have an English-speaking guide, phone the castle ahead of your visit. You can find details on the official website.
On leaving Aragonese Castle, check out the ruins of the Temple of Poseidon, which are situated in its shadow. All that is left of this 6th century B.C. structure are two Doric columns. Sightsee the rest of Taranto’s old center in which the castle is located.