In Calabria are some of the most beautiful castles in all of Europe. Magnificent, they attract the attention even of the most distracted gaze. Today we will know which castles to visit in Calabria. So, let’s do it! Here at Traveling to Calabria you make the trip of your dreams!!! Are you staying in Calabria? Looking for a hotel? Click here and discover best accommodation options in Calabria!
A little more about Calabria
Calabria is a hard and fertile land; land of sea and mountain, a land of historical contradictions and natural and cultural complexities. The region, bathed by two seas, is the destination of mass tourism but also niche target for those who like wild and untouched places and want to be able to get in touch with their true nature. What Are The Ten Places You Must See In Calabria?
Perhaps not everyone knows, however, the territory of Calabria is filled with much pre-existing architecture, including castles, forts and towers. They are actually many and are located on the coast and inner towns. Let’s then discover the most fascinating and ancient castles of Calabria as well as impregnable fortresses near the coast, to monitor and defend against enemy invasions, the impressive fortresses are symbols of a distant past made up of encounters and clashes between peoples, as well as achievements. Castles that tell the story of a region to be discovered! Enogastronomic Itinerary In Calabria
In this post we will be able to visit the best preserved and most charming castles, ready to tell the hidden beauties and their stories. Anyway, I want to emphasize the fact that, then, each castle presented in this text, will have a deepening with a specific post, in order to be able to know more deeply and comprehensively.
1) Castles to visit in Calabria: CASTLE OF REGGIO CALABRIA
We start this tour by visiting the Castle of Reggio Calabria, a historic fort that is situated near the homonymous Square and maintains within its walls centuries of history and vicissitudes. The Aragonese Castle in Reggio Calabria is considered one of the main symbols of the city which on several occasions has represented political strength and courage.
A little more about the Aragonese Castle in Reggio Calabria
The mountainous area in which it is located, is a strategic point known since the age of the Greeks and defended by great walls. It is defined Aragonese, but in fact its roots are much deeper and older. Its original structure was repeatedly subject to extensions and renovations made by the Normans, by the people of Anjou and, later, by the Aragonese.The greatest moment of the Aragonese Castle was interrupted by the decadence of the 19th century, with several collapses and demolitions that compromised its original beauty.
2) Castles to visit in Calabria: THE RUFFO CASTLE OS SCILLA
A few miles from Reggio Calabria, in the direction of Scilla, you can admire a magnificent castle of ancient origins, quoted by Homero in the Odyssey: the Ruffo Castle of Scilla. It stands on a promontory with a spectacular view of the sea and, because of its strategic location, has been home to a navy lighthouse since 1913. In the middle ages, the castle became the first Byzantine fortress and then became a military garrison of Roberto of Altavila. In 1533 the castle was purchased by Ruffo, which made it a noble residence. The castle is open to the public every day from 09:45 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.; the ticket costs two euros.
3) Castles to visit in Calabria: NORMAN-SWABIAN CASTLE OF VIBO VALENTINA
At the top of the hill, where probably was the ancient Greek city, Hipponion, stands the Norman-Swabian Castle of Vibo Valentia. The building was built in the eleventh century by Roger, the Norman, as a simple fortification that had a fenced triangular tower and three circular towers, made with the reuse of the material of the temples. The imposing lines of the Castle ‘clash’ with the harmonious forms of the natural landscape that surrounds it, as well as the color of the stones and is illuminated in the sunlight making it look, in contrast to the deep blue of the sea, even more powerful , proud and beautiful.
4) Castles to visit in Calabria: CASTLE OF MURAT
Another castle built on a promontory tuff of Pizzo Calabro, by the 15th century was an Aragonese castle, known as the ‘Castle of Murat’ by the tragic events of October 1815. It was built by King Ferdinand I of Aragon to strengthen the defenses of his kingdom devastated by the bloody conspiracy of the barons against him. Its popularity is well represented by the large number of visitors who want to see this magnificent building with their own eyes. So incredibly gorgeous, it may have inspired some of the best-known writers such as Alexandre Dumas, who loved this place. The castle consisted of two cylindrical towers, a massive quadrangular body with casemates and floors of soil, drawbridge and portal with walkways that led out of the city and also served as escape routes.
5) Castles to visit in Calabria: CASTLE OF SANTA SEVERINA
Impossible not to visit the Castle of Santa Severina which appears proud to our views. This castle is the testimony of different cultures that occurred in the history of this village, considered one of the most beautiful in Italy. The castle, in excellent condition, is open for visitors inside, where you can admire the rooms with original frescoes; often show cultural events, exhibitions of paintings, photography, old clothes and make the location a center of interest and attraction. It is composed of a square tower with four cylindrical towers placed in the corners and is flanked by four protruding walls in correspondence with the towers.
6) Castles to visit in Calabria: ARAGONESE CASTLE IN LE CASTELLA
Near Capo Rizzuto Island, part of a unique natural landscape in the countryside, about 30 meters above sea level, overlooks the picturesque Aragonese Castle in Le Castella. From the top of its beautiful cylindrical towers there is a magnificent view over the valley of the river Neto, and the hills of the Marquis of Crotone. It was submitted from 1994 to 1998 to a great restoration, which brought to light archaeological finds of great importance.
A little more about Castle in Le Castella
A magical place where the ancient walls of the Aragonese Castle still, powerfully, draw the landscape and are, in fact, one of the most beautiful castles in the region! Perfectly preserved and fully open, the fort was built on a small island tied to the coast by a narrow strip of land in the middle of the marine reserve: a stunning setting. Its strategic location, south of the Gulf of Taranto, has made this place, over time, one of the most coveted among the various populations that boasted for the supremacy of this stretch of sea. The fort did not welcome the local nobility but served as a haven for troops engaged against sea attacks by the invading shifts.
7) Castles to visit in Calabria: SWABIAN CASTLE
We arrive at the Swabian Castle of Cosenza, which is located on the Pancrazio hill and is one of the most important symbols of the city of Cosenza. This Manor house owes its name to Norman Roger II and Frederick II of Sweden, who were the protagonists of the most incisive structural changes to this building of Calabria. The castle was built on an earlier Byzantine fortification of 937 AD which played an important role in the defense of the city of Cosenza from the assaults of the Saracens.
A little more about Swabian Castle
The Bourbons used it as a prison and, after the unification of Italy, became property of the state, which sold it to the city of Cosenza. Today the castle presents itself well preserved: the octagonal tower of the Swabian period, the crests of arms and the prisons. The Castle Cosenza is always a fascinating place, because it dominates the whole city. The Castle of Cosenza quietly remained, however, one of the finest surviving examples of Swabia in our region and reminds us of its history as well as its beauty.
8) Castles to visit in Calabria: CASTLE OF ROSETO CAPO SPULICO
Behind the sea of Roseto, there is the splendid Castle of Roseto Capo Spulico, also a must see. You cannot describe it, just a visit it able to testimony all its beauty. This fortress is a unique place, a true medieval castle firmly perched without cliff, dates back to the 10th century and, in 1229, was commissioned by Frederick II for Order of the Knights Templar.
A little more about Castle of Roseto Capo Spulico
The castle has the trapezoidal form and has three towers, one of which is centralized and higher than the others. Inside, it has ample reception rooms (open to visitors) and outside you can visit the stables and tanks. The current structure is not, however, totally medieval, due to the innumerable interventions that have completed and altered its original appearance. In front of the Castle, in the sea, rises a unique rock, known as Castle’s Mushroom or Stone Anvil, it becomes almost a monument due to its uniqueness. Today, the Castle of Roseto is the ideal setting for special moments.
9) Castles to visit in Calabria: ARAGONESE CASTLE OF CASTROVILLARI
An impressive late medieval age complex is the Aragonese Castle of Castrovillari, which was heavily restored in 1490 according to the will of King Ferdinand of Aragon, who lived in Calabria to end the sad conspiracy of the Barons. Built almost certainly on the substrate of a Swabia period, the castle stands on a plain isthmus of the ancient town of Castrovillari, perched on the Coscile and Fiumicello valley. The imposing building was surrounded by a deep moat, now gone, but maintains its rectangular body with four cylindrical towers.
A little more about Aragonese Castle of Castrovilarri
The largest tower, called the ‘mast’, is decorated by hanging arches; is sadly known as the ‘infamous tower’ because of the terrible punishments inflicted on the prisoners who were locked there. The mansion, which was used as a prison until 1995, is now open to the public and is one of the region’s best preserved Aragonese castles.
10) Castles to visit in Calabria: DUCAL CASTLE
In the Corigliano Calabro, on the Ionian coast, is the Ducal Castle. It was built by King Norman Robert of Altavila in the second half of the 11th century to control the area. The fortress was, initially, used for military purposes and then transformed into a residence for noble families. The Saluzzo family decided to change and improve the appearance of the castle so, in the seventeenth century the chapel of St. Augustine and the octagonal tower were built. The lower part of the castle represents the main nucleus.
A little more about Ducal Castle
You can still visit the old hot springs used to collect the water, the big kitchen, a part of the prisons and the cracks used to defend against attacks. Today the Ducal Castle, after a meticulous restoration, is a pioneer not only of Sibaritian territory, but of all of southern Italy. They stand out in the interior, the room of mirrors, the dining room and the kitchens of century XIX. Over the centuries, successive families in possession of the mansion have made internal changes to make it a noble residence, but the original plan in military style and Norman style are still visible.
11) Castles to visit in Calabria: SWABIAN CASTLE OF ROCCA IMPERIALE
At the top of the historic center, on a hill, next to the cliffs above the sea, is the tall and imposing Swabian Castle of Rocca Imperiale, which is the very identity of the city. Built from 1221 under the orders of Frederick II of Swabia, who chose this place as his residence, he established forever the trademark of his name.
A little more about Swabian Castle of Rocca Imperiale
The Castle of Rocca Imperiale shows itself as a huge ship made of stone; the bow to the south, gray flanks protected by symmetrical towers, and, on the deck, ‘touched’ the tower in the sky. The castle of Swabia is the strength and the point of attraction, even if, on closer inspection, Rocca Imperiale hides jewelry that will amaze even the most demanding visitors. Thanks to the various pieces and the various paths arranged inside the Castle, you can relive a journey that lasted about six centuries.
How to get there?
1) How to get there? BY PLANE
To get to Calabria, the fastest and easiest way is by plane, and the region has three airports: ‘Titto Minniti’ in Reggio Calabria, ‘Sant’Anna’ in Crotone and ‘Lamezia Terme’ airport.
2) How to get there? BY TRAIN
The railway lines are numerous; Intercity and Espresso trains connect Calabria with the main cities in the north of the country, both by the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian lines.
3) How to get there? BY CAR
From northern Italy, the A1 highway runs all the way from the stretch from Milan to Naples. The A30 highway connects Naples to Salerno, where we have the A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria, crossing from north to south the whole province.
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IMPORTANT TO KNOW!
Remember that to drive in Italy it is MANDATORY to have the International Driving License, the famous IDP (International Driving Permit). The certificate is not issued in Italian, but it is accepted in English! The IDP lasts 180 days (it depends where you live) and is issued by the Traffic Department of your country (if you have the European Driver License, you don’t need to worry about it!).
- Check with your country’s Traffic Department which documents are required and the rates for issuing the IDP. If you chose to travel by car, be sure to read our Post “Driving in Italy“. It is very important to avoid winning fines for lack of information.
Traveling in Calabria offers the possibility to go back in time and get in touch with the most diverse civilizations: Romans, Goths, Lombards, Byzantines, Normans, Swabian, Anjous, Aragonese and Bourbons, an adventure that even the most distracted travelers will not forget. In many places you can find, a few meters away and one next to the other, places where elements of different ages overlap and integrated each other over the centuries.
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