The history of the coastal towers in the Kingdom of Naples

In the historical fabric of the Kingdom of Naples, the coastal towers represent one of the most fascinating pages. Built to counter Saracen and Corsair incursions, these structures were fundamental for the safety of the coasts. In particular, the towers of the Gargano they were part of a broader defensive system, which covered the entire coastal strip of the kingdom, from Basilicata and Calabria, from Salento up to the Capitanata where 25 towers were built, of which about ten on the Gargano, of great historical and landscape value.

These sighting outposts used a real communication network with light and smoke signals to transmit messages or request help. A simple but revolutionary system, which allowed the entire coast to be warned of an imminent threat in just a few minutes.

These towers, often fascinating from an architectural point of view, are found along much of the coast of southern Italy. The need for such an extensive defensive system was dictated by the position of the Kingdom of Naples, extending into the Mediterranean and particularly exposed to pirate raids such as that of Dragut Rais in Vieste.

The historical events that led to the creation of this imposing defensive system began in the 1532th-1563th centuries, with the construction of the first towers to defend the ports and main cities. It was only with the ordinances of the viceroy Pietro di Toledo in XNUMX and then with those of Pedro Afan de Ribera in XNUMX that a decisive impulse was given to the construction of an uninterrupted chain of towers throughout the Kingdom of Naples.

Despite the efforts, the project faced numerous obstacles, including the sharing of expenses among the various “Universities” (municipalities), which delayed the construction of the towers. Only with the imposition of a tax in 1567 and subsequently in 1594 was it possible to continue the construction of new towers and complete those still pending.

Today, these towers, some of which are well preserved, tell the story of a territory that has been able to organize itself to defend itself from external threats, becoming an emblematic example of resilience and ingenuity.

In the surroundings of Vieste we find:

    • The Garlic tower, from which you can observe an enchanting panorama
    • The tower of San Felice, from which it is possible to admire thenatural arch.
    • The Gattarella tower, inside the homonymous resort
    • The tower of Portonuovo
    • La Porticello tower
    • The tower of Finalize it (halfway between Vieste and Peschici)
    • The Usmai tower (in the Peschici area)
    • The Calalunga tower (in the Peschici area)
    • The tower of Monte Pucci, between Peschici and Saint Menaius, Vico del Gargano marina

Instead, the tower of Molinella, the tower of the Testa del Gargano were destroyed, while the tower of Pugnochiuso o della Pergola became the base of the lighthouse.

An inventory from 1748 gives us an overall panorama of 379 coastal towers in the Kingdom, demonstrating the large scale and effectiveness of this defense system. Among these, those of the Gargano continue to bear witness to a past of vigilance and resistance, becoming a historical and cultural heritage to be valued and preserved.

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