The Arechi Castle

Salerno, Campania, Italy
Est. --- / 8 mins / Map

The Arechi Castle - Cya On The Road

The castle is perched atop Monte Bonadies, dominating the city of Salerno below. Although findings of coins confirm human frequentation of the hill as early as the third to second centuries B.C., the first permanent construction dates to the sixth century A.D., during the Greek-Gothic war, when the Greek general Narsetes ordered the construciton of a castrum, or fort. Remains of the Byzantine fortification are visible in some sections of the wall in “opera quadrata,” or “squared-off work,” achieved with large blocks of tufa, and in the original layout of the turris maior, or larger tower. The Normans modified this tower, but they raised the height of the adjoining wall network, and realized an enlargement to the south with the construction of a portico, of which there remain a few pylons, embedded in the bulwarks built to hold the cannons during the sixteenth century. They were the ones responsible for the torre called “La Bastille,” built on a rocky spur to the north of the castle: its construction satisfies the necessity of surveying movements not directly visible from the castle itself. Despite the fact that Frederick the Second had included the turris maior among the fortifications in need of repairs, the Schwabian period has yielded little archeological documentation. The Angevins brought more significant modifications, adding cisterns and manufacturing zones; they built several turrets, furnished with arrow-slits (narrow vertical apertures through which defenders could shoot arrows), under which rifle-slits were later installed: these are also still visible. The Angevin rulers also built a balneum, or bathing-structure, and a thermal system which utilised numerous individual cisterns. With the Aragonese, the castle reached its point of maximum development. The still-visible large-sized manufacuring structures were built, to the east of the so-called Plaza of Arms. Neapolitan and Florentine maiolica pieces, and earthenware pottery produced in the nearby Vietri sul Mare confirm that the architectural complex was not left only to the soldiers on guard duty, but that high-ranking lords stayed here. Between 1547 and 1564 an English traveler, Thomas Hoby, was welcomed by princes who had the practice of spending their summers there. In the description of his arrival from Cava, Hoby specifies that he reached the castle only after he had climbed its imposing rocks: the road that links Vietri with Salerno was not yet built. In December of 1960, the building was acquired by teh Province of Salerno. In the castle museum are exhibited objects found during the excavations at the site: ceramics, glass, metallic objects, and coins. Autore dei testi:Matilde Romito con la collaborazione di Silvia PacificoTraduzioni e voci:Italiano – voce Matilde Romito - Editing audio Associazione Culturale PrismaInglese – traduzione e voce Erich Nicholson - Studio Pippolaticomusic di Luca BechelliImmagini:Tutte le immagini sono di proprietà della Provincia di Salerno, autore Gaetano Guida

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