Towering at a height of 300m above sea level, the Castello di Arechi is considered the symbol of Salerno. One of the main reasons for visiting the castle, which also has a museum in its former stables, is the view over the city and over the Mediterranean. There is also a, privately owned, restaurant inside the monument.
Castello di Arechi Salerno
History and description
The Castello di Arechi was constructed in the 8th century, by the Lombard Duke of Benevento, Arechi II (734-787), after whom it is also named. He probably made use of an already existing 6th century, Byzantine, construction, as evidenced by the sandstone blocks used for the oldest part of its walls. (The use of sandstone was characteristic of that period).
In 774, when Charlemagne attacked the Lombards, Arechi II moved the center of power from Benevento to Salerno, to better be able to control the coast. This is when the castle more or less got its present shape.
The Normans, in the 10th century, were one of the peoples possessing the castle in the course of its history.
Its location, looking out over the sea, had made it very easy to defend, and, although it has been attacked many times over the years, it has never had to surrender.
After some last changes in the 16th century, the castle gradually lost its defensive function. From the early 19th century, it was not used as a fortress anymore.
Recent restorations, in addition to recovering its usability, have made the castle into an occasional venus for concerts,
What to see
The history of Salerno
The castle museum highlights the history of Salerno and the surrounding area. A multimedia tour traces the stages of the castle’s construction and transformations, from its Lombard origin to the latest restorations.
Several rooms are devoted to military history. The Hall of Arms showcases the weapons, armor, uniforms and coats of arms of the various Lombard, Norman, Swabian and Angevin corps and regiments that have occupied the castle.
The main attraction is the sarcophagus of Arechi II, the Lombard duke who had the castle built in the 8th century. The sarcophagus is decorated with biblical scenes and Christian symbols.
Ceramics is one of the specialties of the Amalfi Coast. The museum shows medieval and Renaissance ceramics, including vases, plates and tankard, decorated with geometric, floral and figurative motifs.
Several rooms are devoted to numismatics, and display a large collection of coins, medals and seals from different eras and geographical areas. The coins testify to the wealth and power of the Duchy of Benevento.
Sacred art and Chapel of Sant’Andrea
The rooms devoted to sacred art show a series of paintings, sculptures, reliquaries and liturgical vestments of artistic and religious value.
The 9th century chapel of St. Andrew is the oldest church in the castle. It contains both Byzantine and Romanesque frescoes.
There is also a library specializing in the study of fortifications.
The panoramic view from the castle terrace offers a breathtaking view of the city and the gulf of Salerno, including the Vesuvius and big parts of the Amalfi coast.
More defensive constructions
The castle itself was not the only defensive construction in Salerno. The Torrione, a massive square tower overlooking the sea east of the city and the Bastille, above the castle, also guaranteed the safety of the city.
Address: Località Croce – 84125 Salerno. Phone: +39 089 2964015. Opening times: From 09:00 till 17:00; Sundays and public holidays form 09:00 till 15:30; Mondays closed. Ticket price: 4 Euros; EU citizens age 18-25, 2 Euros: EU citizens 18- and 65+, free.
(Note that opening times and admission may be subject to change.)
From the Piazza della Concordia stop near the railway station, you can take bus 19. The trip takes 25 minutes and there is another 10 minute walk at the end. A taxi ride costs around 15 Euros and takes around 15 minutes. Of course, you can also walk the entire way, which takes around 90 minutes, but the views are amazing.