Castello Arechi Castle

Salerno Arechi Castle

Castle of Prince Arechi • Old Town

The Castle of Arechi is located in an elevated position compared to the city, on the Bonadies hill. It was built by the Byzantines probably by expanding an ancient Roman castrum. In the 7th century, the Lombard noble Arechi II built, starting from the castle, the mighty city walls which the prince wanted to expand and fortify to counter the threats of the Franks. At that time Salerno constituted, together with Benevento, part of the Lombard duchy in southern Italy, but after the fall of Pavia and with the transfer of many refugees from the north to Salerno and the surrounding territories, the city began to assume a significant weight in the strategic panorama and Lombard politician and his defensive system was the subject of intense work. 

The castle and the city walls that joined it were enlarged and fortified. Since then the fortress was never conquered by force, but Gisulf II, the last Lombard prince of Salerno, who had taken refuge there, surrendered in 1077 to the Norman conqueror Robert Guiscard, who had married his sister Sichelgaita, and the castle it became a Norman stronghold, functional to the penetration of the Nordic knights into the southern lands.

The current configuration of the castle dates back to the 16th century, when the last functional changes were made before defensive needs changed and the castle gradually lost its importance. In fact, at the beginning of the 19th century, the castle lost its function as a fortress, as with the improvement of firearms it was no longer capable of ensuring the defense of the city.

A Castle never conquered

The Castle bears architectural traces of the different periods of which it was the protagonist. Made of blocks of local dark stone, it appears as a complex of defensive structures stretched along the crest of the hill. In addition to the central unit, there are a series of enclosures or compartments, which allowed the defense possibilities of the complex to be increased. The Torrione was also part of the Castle’s defensive system, a massive square-shaped building, which dominates the sea to the east of the city. Just above the Castle there is a tower, the Bastille, which was also part of the defensive complex. The castle suffered various attacks and sieges over the centuries, but was never conquered.

The recent restorations of the castle, in addition to recovering its usability, have allowed the creation of a multifunctional space.

In the ancient stables of the castle there is an exhibition center for ceramics and finds found within the castle perimeter; other spaces, however, host a library specialized in the study of fortification works.

Getting There