The magnificent Bay of Conca holds another jewel : upon the picturesque promontory of Capo di Conca dwells a proud and solitary watch-tower. Built in the 16th century, it bears witness to the ferocious assaults from pirates and Saracens which plagued the whole area between the 9th and 16th centuries. This historical situation has left a series of watch-towers and defense towers all along the Coast. Most of them were built in the 16th century, when viceroy Peter of Toledo requested that a global defensive structure control the entire coast. However, the oldest towers go back to the 13th century, or even earlier.
The defense towers were built near the populated areas; they were granted a garrison and, often, a cannon battery. The watch-towers were smaller, with fewer soldiers, and were situated in positions which were difficult to reach but allowed a good view of the vast sea and horizon. Each tower could be seen from its neighboring tower, so that they could communicate quickly through smoke (by daylight) or fire (by night) signs.
The Tower of Conca is probably the most beautiful tower of the Coast thanks to its picturesque and dramatic location. Because of its quadrangular shape, it is called the “Aragonais” tower. The ceilings have cross vaults. The external walls are thicker to provide a more efficient fortification against cannonballs. This “White Tower” was famous and as the late 1960’s it was a cemetery. Its case was evoked at the United Nations, and it was even compared to the “Towers of Silence”, or Dhakhmas, where the Parsi, adepts of Zoroastrianism, used to deposit their dead. However, there was never anything macabre about this noble sepulcher and it has always been a favorite destination for trekkers and hunters alike. Today it is mostly a symbolic and venerable burying ground.
One anecdote relates that one day, the inhabitants of Conca noticed two elderly American ladies kneeling down before the tower. They asked the ladies what they were doing. They answered: “We are praying to the Lord that he grant us the blessing of dying here so we can be buried in this tower. It is the most beautiful place in the world!” The Conchesi convinced them to forsake this kind of prayer and it is said that they kept on visiting Conca for several years… for their enjoyment!