Castello Aragonese

Taranto, Italy

Castello Aragonese is a fortification in Taranto. Officially called the Castel San Angelo, it was built on the site of older fortifications dating to Greek occupation in the third and fourth centuries BC. In 1481 the low ground in front of the fortification site was excavated to allow the passage of boats, and to create a moated defensive position. The present fortress was built for the then-king of Naples, Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1496 to reinforce the naturally low-lying link between the old town of Taranto on a peninsula, and the mainland. The seven-towered design is attributed to Francesco di Giorgio Martini of Siena.

The fortress repelled an Ottoman attack in 1594, but it quickly lost its military significance with the advent of artillery. It was converted to an artillery platform and many interior spaces were filled in to provide a stable base for the guns. In 1707 under the Habsburgs it was converted to a prison however during the Napoleonic period it reverted to its original function as a military fortress. French generals Thomas-Alexandre Dumas and Jean-Baptiste Felix de Manscourt du Rozoy were the most illustrious prisoners of the castle having been taken prisoner in 1799 by the pro-Bourbon Sanfedismi when their damaged ship sought refuge at Taranto Harbour. At the time, Taranto was part of the Kingdom of Naples.

In 1883 the San Angelo tower was demolished to allow construction of the Ponte Girevole, and two others were removed to allow the widening of the canal. Since 1883 the fort has been occupied by the Italian Navy. Beginning in 2003 the Navy began restoration and archeological work on the site, removing plasterwork and investigating fortification work dating back to the Byzantine era. The fort is open for tours.



Your name


Founded: 1496
Category: Castles and fortifications in Italy

More Information


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Heidy Rivero (2 years ago)
Very entertaining visit and very interesting history. Definitely a must go The tour is free but you need to book a slot, they have the number in the website They have tours even at night
Maria NKzl (2 years ago)
It is said you need to make a reservation. To be able to visit the castle with a tour for free. We called and thought we did one for 4pm the following day. When we got there the security said they don't do tours that day because there is the cruise ship in the city. But it was open to the public to go in and explore on their own no guide needed. They gave us a leaflet in English and that was it. Bad communication, at least one person's should speak proper English on have an announcement like "no tours on the days cruise ships dock here, English tours only 4pm any other day" as this is what I assume is the case! 30 mins is enough to stroll around.
Mike Lorusso (2 years ago)
Entrance is free so we thought you can just show up to visit the castle. Totally wrong. You must make a reservation, so we were there in the morning and first slot available was at 4PM. The tour is guided by a Navy Officer. Ours was really great, thanks to the Italian Navy this site is well preserved and archaeologists are still working on it!
Angelo Brindani (2 years ago)
A pure gem. The museum is free and open from 9am until 1 in the morning. Just book it over the phone. Make sure you mention a tour guide in English in case you need one. The guided tour is around 45mins and given directly by the Naval army. They have plenty of stories to tell. Don't miss it.
Michał Suchocki (2 years ago)
Due to covid you can actually visit it for free now! Cool option
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

The Church of the Holy Cross

The church of the former Franciscan monastery was built probably between 1515 and 1520. It is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Rauma. The church stands by the small stream of Raumanjoki (Rauma river).

The exact age of the Church of the Holy Cross is unknown, but it was built to serve as the monastery church of the Rauma Franciscan Friary. The monastery had been established in the early 15th century and a wooden church was built on this location around the year 1420.

The Church of the Holy Cross served the monastery until 1538, when it was abandoned for a hundred years as the Franciscan friary was disbanded in the Swedish Reformation. The church was re-established as a Lutheran church in 1640, when the nearby Church of the Holy Trinity was destroyed by fire.

The choir of the two-aisle grey granite church features medieval murals and frescoes. The white steeple of the church was built in 1816 and has served as a landmark for seafarers.