The Castle of Gaeta
The Anjou Castle of Gaeta
In 1297 Charles I of Anjou, King of Naples, built a fine castle in Gaeta that is square in shape with four large towers.
The Aragon Castle of Gaeta
From 1435 to 1442 Alfonso V of Aragon, known as Alfonso the Magnanamous, made Gaeta his base for the conquest of the throne of Naples. A new rectangular fortress was built on a higher level of the promontory, which adjoined the earlier Angevin construction. The structure is rectangular in shape and has four formidable cylindrical towers of varing height. It is sometimes referred to as the Alfonsino.
When Charles V of Habsburg, also known as the Holy Roman Emperor, ordered futher fortifications to make the castle complex into a formidable fortress. These included a ring of tall strong walls along the coastline. The sole entrance was the Porta San Carlo also known as La Cittadella.
The Military Prison in the Castle of Gaeta
The Angevine wing of the castle was used for many years as a military prison. When Benito Mussolini, the Fascist dictator, was deposed and arrested in June 1943 he was briefly held in the Gaeta’s castle before being transferred to the prison on the Island of Ponza. Furthermore, in 1948 after the Second World War, the head of the Nazi Gestapo in Rome, Herbert Kappler, was tried by an Italian military tribunal for numerous war crimes. Kappler was sentenced to life imprisonment in the castle of Gaeta, together with Walter Reder, an Austrian SS commander. Consequently they were detained here until 1975. The prison finally closed its doors in 1980.
Below the castle there is a small holy shrine named the Madonna del Fossato. The original painting by Mario Lieto is housed in the public gallery of the Pinacoteca Comunale which is located nearby in Via De Lieto.