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Castles & Palaces

Due to its location in the Mediterranean, Sicily has been cultivated by several different cultures throughout the ages.  As witness of many years of history and domination, the numerous castles are spread all over Sicily. Over two hundred remains says that they were built to defend from the invaders. Architecture of castles boasts influences from Greek, Roman, Arab, Norman, Spanish, and French dominance. Born as defensive purpose and a symbol of power, nowadays castles are an attraction for tourists.

Ursino Castle was built between 1239 and 1250 by the architect Richard of Lentini, by order of Frederick II of Swabia and served as the residence of the Aragonese Royal family in the 14th century. It has 4 circular and semi-circular towers, and today is the seat of the Town Museum. The Ursino Castle in Catania houses such works of art as a representation of The Virgin on a Throne by Antonello de Saliba, dated 1947, and a portrait of S. Cristoforo dated 1637 by Pietro Novelli.

Access Piazza Federico di Svevia Catania
Coordinate 37.499785,15.084328
Everday 9/19 ; Sunday 9/13.30
Ticket  € 8,00;Tel. 095 345830 .


Adrano Castle was built on the ruins of a Saracen building by the Count Roger who bestowed it upon his nephew Adelaide. The castle was variously altered over the centuries: it was the residence of noble Aragonese families and a prison. In 1958, after its purchase by the local municipal authority, the Museum was founded and the castle, now restored, is once again the town's main attraction.

Access :Piazza Umberto 40,Adrano.Coordinate 37.662815,14.831926
Visit:Tuesday to Saturday 9.00 – 19.00;Sundays  9.00 – 13.30;Monday Closed
Ticket Castle/Museum + Archeological area of Dyonisyus wall € 4,00


Paterno Castle is one of the most remarkable monuments left by the Normans. The castle was built in 1072 over an already existing Arab fortress by Roger de Hauteville, later, between 1221 and 1223 the castle became part of Frederick II of Swabia's programme of military construction. The castle has a rectangular plan, on three floors, with a height of 34 m. Originally, it had Ghibelline-style merlons, of which today only remains can be seen. Notable is the colour effect created by the dark shade of the stones and the frames of the Gothic-style mullioned windows, in white limestone.

Access Via dei Normanni 95047 Paternò CT
Tuesday to Sunday 9:30 12:30
Tel 0957970304


Aci Castello Castle
, built of lava stone, stands on a spur of rock overlooking the sea, few kilometres from Catania. It has been a fortified strong post since Roman times, later, it was conquered by Roger de Hauteville and his Normans in 1072. Destroyed several times, it was rebuilt by King Tancredi in 1189. The castle was later ceded to the bishops of Catania. The castle, from the end of the 13th century until the age of the viceroys, witnessed the struggles that pitted the Aragonese of Sicily against the Angevins of Naples. During the 16th cent. the castle passed through various private hands until becoming a prison under the Bourbons in 1787. Today, largely ruined, it retains a tower and a part of the central structure. The castle houses a small Museum with an interesting collection of minerals and archaeological items.

Access Piazza Castello Acicastello
Coordinate 37.554168,15.148594
Info Castle/Civic Museum  tel 3204339691, 095 7373426
Every day  9/13  and  15/17 .Ticket  € 3,00.Children up to 6 free entry.From 7 to 10 anni € 1,00.Over 65 € 1,50.


Maniace Castle, featuring a Swabian architecture, stands on Ortygia Island, in Syracuse. It was built by the Emperor Frederick II. The fortress has undergone numerous restorations and refurbishments over the centuries, the major caused by the 1693’s earthquake that devastated the entire eastern Sicily. It has maintained its 13th century exterior look with four circular towers. Today, thanks to restoration and consolidation work on the entire belt of fortifications, it is possible to visit exhibitions and enjoy cultural events in the evocative scenario of the Piazzale d'Armi.

Access Via Castello Maniace Siracusa
Coordinate 37.055519,15.294305
Visit:Every day  9,00 to 13,30  
Ticket: € 4,00. From 18 to 25 € 2,00. Free under18 and over 65 (Reduction for UE members ).


Fort of Vittoria (Augusta) - a small, square construction with a square tower at each corner. It was built by Frederick of Swabia in the second half of the 14th century. Over the centuries, and particularly under the Spanish domination in the 16th century, a number of structural modifications were made. It has conserved part of an ancient Norman tower, and is presently being refurbished to become seat of a Museum and Library.  

Access :Via Cristoforo Colombo,Coordinate 37.232221,15.219697
The Castle is Closed , it is possible to book at: +39 0931 981 319 / prolocoaugusta@simail.it.


Fortress of Capo Passero

The fortress Charles V located at the highest point of the island of Capo Passero, has a square basement with sides of about 35 meters ,there are not  openings up to 4 meters high , the threshold from which begins the first level of the fortress , reached by a flight of stairs . The portal is characterized by a large coat of arms belonging to King Philip III , who became King of Spain and Sicily in 1598 , depicting an eagle holding a shield with heraldic insignia.

Access Coordinate  36.685640,15.137371
Info for Visit :+39 0931 841461


Donnafugata Castle

Contrada Donnafugata

Coordinate 36.880376,14.564699

Immersed among the carob trees and surrounded by an immense park the castle of Donnafugata, bought in 1982 by the Provincial Administration of Ragusare, presents one of the most interesting and spectacular destinations among the tourist itineraries of the province.
The name which is Arabic in origin, is misleading. It does not, in fact, refer, as first appearances might suggest, to a woman fleeing some tyrannical husband or father, nor to one of the legends lingering in some popular memory, but is a free interpretation and transcription of Ayn as Jafat (meaning Fountain of Health) which in Sicilian dialect became “Ronnafuata” and then the present day “Donnafugata”.
The castle's origins date back to the mid-17th cent., when the fief of Donnafugata was acquired by Vincenzo Arezzo La Rocca. The castle was continuously altered until the early years of the 20th century, when Corrado Arezzo, Baron of Donnafugata and Senator of the Kingdom of Savoy, transformed the façade into what we see today. The result is a summation of styles ranging from the Venetian Gothic of the elegant loggia that dominates the centre part, with its two-light windows surmounted by lacework and rose windows, to the late Renaissance style visible in the massive towers.
The castle, which incorporates other previous construction, boasts some 122 rooms. On the piano nobile, at the top of the great stairway embellished with neoclassical statues, are the Hall of Coats of Arms, which gets its name from the heraldic symbols of the great Sicilian families painted on the walls, the Hall of Mirrors, decorated with stuccowork, the Billiard and Music Room, with trompe-l'oeils presenting landscape views, and the bedroom of the Princess of Navarre. The Ladies' Drawing Room and the Smoking Room are refined in their décor, the latter presenting a number of interesting motifs recalling the function of pipes and tobacco.

The luxuriant park, with its little temple, fountains, and "coffee-house", complete with loggias and Ionic columns, together with the rich sequence of rooms on the piano nobile, all combine together to make this the largest and most refined patrician country dwelling in South-East Sicily.

Opening hours: Monday closed;
Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday from 9:00 to 13:00 & from 14:45 to 17:30;
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from 9:00 to 13:00

Info: 0932 619333
Ticket: Castle + Parking € 8,00; Castle € 6,00; Parking € 3,00


By car: from Catania arrive to Ragusa (more here) and take the second exit for Santa Croce Camerina  (SP60), after follow indications for the castle.

By train: the only public transport that leads to the small station of Donnafugata is a regional train. The train leaves from the station of Ragusa and takes about 20 min to reach destination.

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