There are about 30 defensive ramparts, built in several stages, along the coastal strip going from Vietri sul Mare to Positano and still tell us the story of eight hundred years (from the IX to the XVII century) of struggles incurred by local people against Saracen bloody raids. From the Byzantine period, in fact, through the domination of the Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese and Spanish viceroys, the inhabitants of the Amalfi coast had to defense themselves from the pirate attacks who plundered the villages with incredibly ferocity, leaving behind them a red trail of blood, rubble and imprisonment. Some of these events have remained in history, such as the massacre of Conca dei Marini in 1543, the attack of Cetara in 1534 and the Turkish invasion in 1587.
There are two types of coastal towers: the first and oldest ones are cylindrical shaped and go back to the Angevin period. They are tall, thin, with few and small windows upward and had mainly an alarm function: they, in fact, signaled the imminent danger to the population, through the lightning of fires, allowing people to find shelter into woods, grottoes or fortifications.
Due to the intensification of raids, in the first half of the XVI century , the viceroy of Naples don Pedro of Toledo ordered the construction of a complex coastal defensive system along the coastline of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Naples - a tower every 4000/5000 steps, as we can read in the edicts -, consisting in more massive and square-shaped towers (type II), with thicker walls on the external side. The transition from the circular-shaped towers to the square-shaped ones was marked by the advent of artillery that necessitate a change in the construction of the fortifications. They had function of sighting, signaling, shelter and active defense, through the use of weapons whose range allowed to hit a ship near the coast.
The history of the coastal towers goes hand in hand the political and military evolution of the Kingdom of Naples: many of them needed urgent maintenance works already 30 years after their construction. With the restoration of the Bourbons in 1815, most of the towers was unarmed and used for other purposes (residential, traffic light signaling or telegraph).
List of existing towers on the Amalfi coast:
- Crestarella Tower or Chiatamone Tower (Vietri sul Mare);
- Tower of Marina di Albori (Vietri sul Mare);
- Tower of Bassano at Cala di Fuenti (Vietri sul Mare);
- Cetara Tower (Cetara);
- Tower of Marina di Erchie (Maiori);
- Capo Tummolo Tower (Maiori);
- Tower of Lama del Cane (Maiori);
- Badia Tower (Maiori);
- Cesare Tower (Maiori);
- Norman Tower (Maiori);
- Mezzacapo Tower (Maiori-Minori);
- Paradiso Tower (Minori);
- Scarpariello or Ficarola Tower (Ravello);
- Atrani Tower (Atrani);
- Ziro Tower (Amalfi);
- Amalfi Tower (Amalfi);
- Tower of Capo di Conca;
- Tower of Assiola (Vettica-Praiano)
- Grado Tower (Praiano);
- Sponda Tower (Positano);
- Trasita Tower (Positano);
- Fornillo Tower (Positano).