Medieval castles in Calabria

Ruffo di Scilla Castle

Located on the Scilla promontory, towards the Strait of Messina, the castle also known as Castello Ruffo di Calabria, is a legacy of rare beauty. It represents the genius loci of the city of Scilla, about 20 km from Reggio Calabria and its history started in the Etruscan era. Scilla is completely isolated and right next to the sea, the ideal lookout location to protect the Calabrian lands from whoever arrives by sea. ...
Founded: 1060 | Location: Scilla, Italy

Murat Castle

Murat Castle in Pizzo was built by the Aragonese in the 15th century. The former King of Naples Joachim Murat, who was the brother-in-law of Napoleon, was imprisoned for several days in the castle and then sentenced to death. He was executed by firing squad on October 13, 1815, in the main hall of the castle and was possibly buried in the church of San Giorgio. Paradoxically, the castle is now called Castello Murat. Insi ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Pizzo, Italy

Castle of Charles V

The Crotone castle, commonly called the Castle of Charles V, was created on the ancient Greek settlement. The spurred bulk of the manor is a unique kind when we speak about medieval and Renaissance fortresses because it highlights the historical development of military architecture from the pouncing defence (towers) to the grazing defence (ramparts). It is also the only example of a castle perched not on the top of a hill ...
Founded: c. 840 AD | Location: Crotone, Italy

Santa Severina Castle

The Castle of Santa Severina, also called Carafa Castle,  was built by Normans in the 11th century. The imposing structure extends for 10,000 square meters and dominates the wide valley of the Neto river and the hills of the Marquisate of Crotone, near Crotone. It is composed of a square keep and by four cylindrical towers that are located on the sides of the castle is also flanked by four bastions projecting in correspo ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Santa Severina, Italy

Reggio Calabria Castle

Reggio Calabria Castle was originally built before 540 AD and enlarged by the Normans and later by the Aragonese in 1459. Throughout the centuries it has been restored and enlarged by its conquerors. The building began to decay in the very early 19th century. Various collapses and demolitions had dotted its history until the recent and radical restoration that brought it back to its original splendor. Today it is the sea ...
Founded: 540 AD | Location: Reggio Calabria, Italy

Squillace Castle

Squillace Castle was built on the ruins of a monastery when the Normans conquered Squillace in 1044. Throughout the years it was conquered and ruled by various families – one of which being the Borgia family. The Borgia family was an Italian-Spanish noble family that become prominent during the Italian Renaissance. Between 1494 and 1735, Squillace was governed by the Borgia Princes. In 1793, an earthquake severely dama ...
Founded: 1044 | Location: Squillace, Italy

Corigliano Calabro Castle

Originally built in the 11th century, when the Normans fought the Byzantine rulers in Southern Italy, the Corigliano Calabro Castle expanded in the first half of the 1300s thanks to the powerful Sanseverino family. In the 15th century, the castle was renovated and its architecture took on the typical features of the Aragonese style; the structure was further altered in the 17th century by the Saluzzo family, and in the 19 ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Corigliano-Rossano, Italy

Castello della Valle

Castello della Valle (Fiumefreddo Castle), founded in 1201, was the residence of the noble lords. During the mid-16th-century, the castle was donated to Ferdinando De Alarçon-Mendoza, marquis of the Valle, and took its current name of Castello della Valle. The current appearance dates from that age. The castle was besieged in 1806-1807 by French troops and nearly destroyed. Today it houses several works of local painter ...
Founded: 1201 | Location: Fiumefreddo Bruzio, Italy

Nicotera Castle

Nicotera castle was rebuilt in 1764 in the remains of a typical Norman architecture. Over the years the castle has been renovated and rebuilt several times. Today there are three different museums located within the castle which can be visited by tourists.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Nicotera, Italy

Cosenza Castle

The Castello Svevo ('Swabian' or Hohenstaufen Castle) was originally built by the Saracens on the ruins of the ancient Rocca Brutia, around the year 1000. The castle was restored by Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, adding the octagonal tower to the original structure, in 1239. According to tradition, his son Henry lived in this castle, as a prisoner at his father"s command. Louis III of Naples and ...
Founded: c. 1000 AD | Location: Cosenza, Italy

Amantea Castle

First built by the Byzantines, Amantea Castle was strengthened by the Arabs. The current cylindrical tower is however to the Norman-Hohenstaufen age. It was long besieged by Charles of Anjou"s troops in 1269. It was nearly destroyed in the earthquakes of 1638 and 1783 and during the French siege in 1806-1807. It is now a public structure, but is abandoned. Castle, now in ruins, is on plateaux with a beautiful view b ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Amantea, Italy

Rocca Imperiale Castle

The imposing Swabian castle of Rocca Imperiale is on the top of the hill over which the whole residential area extends. The fortress was ordered by Frederic II of Swabia in 1221, and he ordered the construction or refurbishment of 200 castles for defensive purposes in southern Italy. The castle was built in a place of great military and strategic importance and surveillance extended to the whole of the Gulf of Taranto. Th ...
Founded: 1221 | Location: Rocca Imperiale, Italy

Nicastro Castle

Nicastro"s origins trace back to the 9th century, when Calabria was part of the Byzantine Empire, when a fortress called Neo Castrum ('New Castle') was created. In 1057, the area was conquered by the Normans, but Nicastro revolted against Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger. Having dominated the revolt, the new nobiliary had the castle built, which was restored in the 13th century by Frederick II of Swab ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Lamezia Terme, Italy

Monasterace Castle

The historical centre of Monasterace is crowned at its highest points by the Norman-Byzantine castle dating from the 11th century. The current appearance dates mainly from the 15th-16th centuries.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Monasterace, Italy

Caccuri Castle

Caccuri castle was built over Byzantine fortress dating to the 6th century. It was restored several times. In the early 1800s the castle became a comfortable noble residence, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, including hot running water and central heating. The restoration work was followed by the architect Adolfo Mastrigli who planned the construction of the cylindrical tower that dominates the castle and which ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Caccuri, Italy

San Niceto Castle

The Castle of Sant"Aniceto (also San Niceto) is a Norman castle built in the early 11th century on a hill in Motta San Giovanni. It is one of the few examples of High Middle Ages architecture in Calabria, as well as one of the few well-preserved Byzantine fortifications in the world. The name derives from that of St. Nicetas, a Byzantine admiral who lived in the 7th-8th centuries. In the 13th century the castle beca ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Motta San Giovanni, Italy

Aiello Calabro Castle

Aiello Calabro Castle was probably buillt in the Byzantine period in the 9th century against Arabian raids. It was besieged  four months by Norman count Robert Guiscard in 1065. He lost two of his nephews in the siege.  The current ruins date mainly from the 15th century. In the 16th century it was one of the most powerful castles in southern Italy. Aiello Calabro castle was destroyed by earthquakes of 1638, 1783 and 1 ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Aiello Calabro, Italy

Amendolea Castle

Amendolea Castle has Norman origins, and it was enlarged subsequently in the late Middle Ages. It is now made up of two recognizable parts. One is the entrance of parallel piped shape, separated by a wall around the residential area. And the second is the rectangular hall of the latter, with very high walls and arched windows and small towers, one of which, isolated, served as a dungeon. With an irregular plan and strong ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Condofuri, Italy

Bivona Castle

The first reliable evidence of feudalism in Bivona dates back to 11 October 1299, when Robert of Anjou, the King of Naples, granted the castles of Bivona and Calatamauro to Giacomo de Catania. The castle mentioned in this decree was probably a watchtower which had been built as part of the walls of Bivona around the time of the War of the Sicilian Vespers. Eventually, the castle began to be built in the first half of the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Vibo Valentia, Italy

San Michele Castle

San Michele Castle was built in the 11th century by Norman invaders. It is currently in in ruinous state as well as the adjacent San Michele church.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Santa Maria del Cedro, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).