The Amalfi Coast is considered to be one of the most beautiful coasts in Europe. The landscape is characterized by the meeting of sea and mountains, picturesque bays with small villages, terraced vineyards and orchards. According to oxfordastronomy, the cities of Amalfi, the oldest maritime republic in Italy, the medieval bishop’s seat Ravello and the romantic harbor town of Positano are particularly attractive.
Amalfi Coast: Facts
|Official title:||Amalfi Coast Cultural Landscape|
|Cultural monument:||Cultural landscape with the high way of the Monti Lattari, also with the fishing village Positano and the local church Santa Maria Assunta, with Amalfi, the oldest maritime republic of Italy, and with the cathedral Santa Andrea and the Chiostro del Paradiso, the monastery and cloister of paradise, with Maiori and its church Santa Maria a Mare, with Ravello and its cathedral San Pantaleone as well as the Palazzo Rufolo, with Scala and its cathedral San Lorenzo, with the Roman villa of Minori and Vietri sur Mare at the end of the “divine coast”|
|Location:||South side of the Sorrentine Peninsula, southeast of Naples|
|Meaning:||a coastal region of great natural beauty with terraced vineyards, orchards and pastureland as well as buildings of particular architectural importance in cities such as Amalfi and Ravello|
Amalfi Coast: History
|920||Creation of the Republic of Amalfi|
|987-1603||Scala as a bishopric|
|after 1086||Start of construction of the Cathedral of San Pantaleone (Ravello)|
|1180-1276||Construction of the bell tower of the Cathedral of Santa Andrea (Amalfi)|
|1266-68||Construction of the Chiostro del Paradiso|
|1335||Destruction of Ravello by the Pisans|
|1707-31||New construction of the Santa Andrea Cathedral|
|1828-29||Stay of the painter Carl Blechen|
|1903-11||Construction of the Villa Cimbrone (Ravello)|
|1932||Discovery of the Grotta dello Smeraldo|
One of the great wonders of Italy
The sculptor had completed his work: Flavio Gioia, the inventor of the wind rose for the compass, was cast in bronze. But his memorial was never erected. The city fathers of Amalfi had doubts whether it had even existed. The legend survived anyway, and not by chance, since the invention of the signpost of the cardinal point was in keeping with Amalfi, the mighty maritime republic that could once rival Venice, Genoa and Pisa. The ships of the Amalfi city union ruled the Mediterranean in the 11th century. The “Tavole Amalfitane” maritime and commercial code was a magna charter of seafaring. And Amalfi dominated the Mare Mediterraneo in association with Ravello, Atrani, Scala, Minuto, Minori and Maiori: Exchange offices and commercial branches were maintained in all important ports, from neighboring Naples to distant Alexandria and Durazzo, Tripoli and Tunis. Business relationships even extended to Constantinople and Jerusalem. The adventurous and able-bodied Amalfitans lived in their own quarter on the Bosporus, and not far from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem they built their own church with a hospice, which later became the order of the Knights of Malta.
No maritime republic is richer than that of Amalfi, wrote a contemporary, nowhere is there so much gold, silver and precious materials, when Arabs, Africans and Indians meet. The cosmopolitans of Amalfi not only brought valuable goods to Italy, but also imported the “Arab architectural style” with the pointed arch, which was soon to become the hallmark of Gothic. It is no wonder that Venice’s Doge and Pisa’s Signoria looked enviously at their powerful competitor.
In 1135 the Pisans advanced with their fleet and dealt the death blow to the republic, which had already been battered by the rule of the Normans. A tremendous seaquake caused large parts of the coast to sink into the sea in 1343. Amalfi was politically and economically at an end. From then on, only cathedrals, monasteries and patrician palaces heralded the former splendor. The coastal strip, which was equally well known in the West and the East, sank into “terra incognita” over the centuries, and the formerly flourishing cities were transformed into sleepy fishing villages.
Rugged mountains, a steeply sloping coast and an azure blue sea are attractions for today’s tourists. Ever since the images of the »queen of the sea-facing side of the boot« went around the world in Rossellini films such as »Viaggio in Italia« (1953) and the presence of celebrities in the luxury dorms established the tourist myth, sun-seekers have populated the beaches, culture enthusiasts the Alleys of the picturesque places.
In the summer months, cars and buses use the only connection, the narrow and winding coastal road. Tens of thousands come every year to see the beauties of the “Amalfitana”: in Amalfi the cathedral and the Chiostro del Paradiso, in Ravello the town church with its bronze portal, the Villa Cimbrone and the Palazzo Rufolo, in whose park Richard Wagner the “magic garden” believed to have found Klingsor for his Parsifal villain. Wagnerians still walk in the footsteps of their maestro in the mountain jewel high above the sea.
At the beginning of the 19th century, educational trips à la Goethe took writers and landscape painters into the wild landscape. The cultural historian Ferdinand Gregorovius reported on “snow-white beaches, hanging gardens” and “places in the wildest rock solitude”, and Carl Blechen influenced generations of painters with his romantic watercolors from Amalfi’s mill valley. The coastal region became the Mecca of the Nordic longing for the south, the »Terra magica«, where »beauty is combined with death«. Her charm inspired English “my lords” and “my ladies” at the turn of the century, free spirits of libertinism and millionaires. And the “radiant unrest” of this old cultural landscape is still enchanting today.