The Castello Aragonese of Taranto, called Castel Sant’Angelo, is a very beautiful Renaissance castle, built on an old natural valley at the end of the small island where the old town stands. Its current appearance is that given during the Aragonese period. The castle was erected on the site of a previous defensive structure, whose oldest architectural stage is Byzantine. Thanks to 13th-century archive documents, it is possible to recreate its Medieval appearance: a fortress with quadrangular towers designed for machicolation-based defense, i.e. the throwing of arrows or other material from the narrow embrasures opening along the bastions.
In the second half of the 15th century, when technologies of warfare had completely transformed the way of fighting and the defense methods thanks to the wide use of artillery and guns, the Castle proved inadequate and so it was necessary to change its architectural features.
It seems now clear that the great architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini produced the designs of the new plan of Taranto’s castle. Its architecture is grounded on exact geometric and mathematical rules, which recall the Sienese architect’s purely Renaissance culture: four cylindrical fortified towers are connected by means of wide and elegant curtains that form a quadrilateral. Over the centuries, the Renaissance structure has been modified, adding new defensive structures and enlarging the moat area. Finally, the castle was further altered in the last century, to turn it into a prison and allow for the construction of the ponte girevole (swing bridge) that connects the new town to the old town of Taranto. Since 1887 it has been home to the Italian Navy, which is currently ensuring free daily guided tours inside the Castle.
Taranto, Castello Aragonese
(foto di Livioandronico2013 – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30324730)
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