Ischia Ponte,Campania (Italy)
The Aragonese Castle (Castello Aragonese, Ischia Ponte) was built in 474 BC on a rock near the island, by Hiero I of Syracuse. At the same time, two towers were built to control enemy fleet’s movements. The rock was then occupied by Parthenopeans (the ancient inhabitants of Naples). In 326 BC the fortress was captured by Romans, and then again by the Parthenopeans. Alfonso V of Aragon in 1441 connected the rock to the island through a stone bridge instead of a previous wood bridge, and wanted the walls were fortified in order to defend the inhabitants against the raids of pirates. About in 1700 on the islet, used to live about 2000 families, there was a larisses Convent, the Abbey of Basilians from Greece, the Bishop and the Seminar, the Prince with a military garrison. On the same rock there were 13 churches. In 1912, the Castle was sold to a private owner. Today the Castle is the most visited monument of the island. You can access the Castle through a tunnel with large openings which let the light enter. Along the tunnel there is a small chapel consecrated to Saint John Joseph of the Cross (San Giovan Giuseppe della Croce), the patron saint of the island. Alternatively, a more comfortable access is possible by a modern lift. After arriving outside, it is possible to visit the Church of the Immacolata and the Cathedral of Assunta. The first was built in 1737 at the same place where there was a small chapel dedicated to Saint Francis, and closed after the suppression of Convents in 1806 as well as the Nunnery of Clarisses.