The Aragonese Castle of Taranto, called Castel Sant’Angelo, is a beautiful Renaissance manor, built on an ancient natural depression at the end of the islet on which the Old City stands. The current appearance is what was conferred on it in the Aragonese era. The Castle was built on a previous defensive structure, whose most ancient architectural phase is the Byzantine one. Thanks to archival documents from the 13th century, it is possible to reconstruct its medieval appearance: a fort with quadrangular towers designed for defensive purposes, that is, for throwing arrows or other material from the narrow slits that opened along the ramparts.

In the second half of the fifteenth century, when war technology had completely revolutionized the way of fighting and defending, thanks to the widespread use of artillery and firearms, the Castle proved inadequate and for this it was necessary to change its architectural characteristics. It now seems that it was the great architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini who made the drawings at the base of the new system of the Castle of Taranto. Its architecture is based on precise geometric-mathematical rules that refer to the Sienese architect’s fully Renaissance cultural universe: four cylindrical towers are joined together by large and elegant curtains that make a quadrilateral. Over the centuries, the Renaissance structure has been modified, with the addition of other defensive structures and the enlargement of the moat area. Finally the manor was further tampered with in the last century, to transform it into a prison and to make room for the construction of the revolving bridge that connects new Taranto to old Taranto. Since 1887 it has been the seat of the Italian Navy, which currently guarantees free daily guided tours inside the Castle.

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Taranto, the Aragonese castle, (photo by Livioandronico2013 – his own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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