Sicily is the region with the highest number of castles in the country. It would be impossible to visit all the castles present on the island but here is some of the must-to-visit reduced in a short selection in the Western side of the territory:
Castle of Racalmuto
Most of the castles in the region have Swabian origins and the Castle of Racalmuto is one of these. The monument is an example of military architecture founded under the king Ruggero d’Altavilla but later inhabited by Frederick of Aragon; the castle was enlarged by the family Chiaramonte. Today the original aspect is still kept but the right tower has been modified for the belvedere, panoramic viewpoint.
The castle of Naro
It is situated on the top of a hill called monte Agragante. The external walls are spaced out by two cylindrical towers and two quadrangular towers: on the Western side there is an Aragon shield, while on the eastern side there are two Gothic mullioned windows enlightening the Sala del Principe situated on the first floor of the tower.
The castle of Favara
This castle is linked to a famous legend according to which a way led to Caltafaraci mountain, where a hen with golden eggs was said to live; actually, a small passage can be found under the courtyard of the castle. It was used as residence for families rather than only for military use.The castle was built in 13th century and several ornaments recall the Norman Age.
This castle, which was built in 11th century, is particularly famous for an ancient legend: the passionate murder of Laura Lanza that was killed with her lover by her father and husband.
The castle has been kept in good conditions thanks to some restoration works. On the ground floor there is a library, on the first floor a big room, Salone delle Feste, the room for parties and events which has several gothic elements. However, one of the most interesting parts is the room with the wash house built with Billiemi stone, a chapel with a tabernacle and a marble statue of Madonna di Trapani.
Castello a Mare
This castle was built by Arabic people in 9th century but it was modified in the course of time depending on the several uses it was destined to. It was the house of some viceroys of Sicily and the seat of the tribunal of Inquisition in Italy. Today it is possible to see only the entrance part, the cylindrical tower and the main tower of the castle. The walls surrounding the fortress, the Renaissance palace and the two hexagonal towers are no longer visible as they were bombarded during the second world war.
Castello di Castelbuono
This castle too is the result of several styles and cultural influences: Arabic, Swabian, Greek, Norman and Byzantine. It was built in 14 century thanks to Francesco I of Ventimiglia and it is made up of three levels: the first destined to servants, the second for the noble people and the third to the court and guests. Today it is kept in good conditions and there is also a gallery that goes directly into the church of San Francesco.
Castello Di Caccamo
This is the most prestigious castle in the region. It was built in the Norman period thanks to the Chiaramonte family who managed to give birth to the biggest fortress in Sicily. Inside the castle it is possible to visit le scuderie, the stables, the room of the theatre, the rooms of the servants, the prisons with some writings left by the imprisoned people, the room of the Congiura and the room of the Armi, weapons.
The castle was built by the Chiaramonte family in 1307. The castle was used in the course of time as the seat of the tribunal of the Inquisition, to host prisons and torture rooms until becoming the seat of the main offices of the University of Palermo. The castle is organized in three floors; the grande salone has wooden ceilings depicting Biblical and knight stories that deserve a visit.
Castello di Erice
This is one of the most renowned castles in the area of Trapani which has very big walls and tall towers. It was used for defense and the piombatoio, a hole used in the past to flow/scroll boiling oil downstairs, is a proof of it.
The castle was built by Normans on the mountain of San Giuliano di Erice, from which it takes its name, in the 13th Century on the ruins of a sanctuary erected in honor of the goddess Venus (the castle is also known as the Venus Castle).
The view is one of the most beautiful aspects of the castle as Egad islands, Trapani and other sites can be seen from it.
As it was considered one of the safest places of the area, the castle was inhabited by many people and several ornaments and artistic objects have been found in the building like some statues, coins, ancient gems, candles and other furnishings.
Author: Anna De Filippo