Medieval castles in Sicily

Poira Castle

Poira Castle was built in the Middle Ages to the site which was inhabitated already in Greek and Roman ages. Today it is ruined with some remains.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Paternò, Italy

Oliveri Castle

Oliveri Castle was built first by the Arabs in the 11th century and later enhanced by Normans. Today the castle is a private building and it is not possible to visit its interior.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Oliveri, Italy

Castle of Ventimiglia

The castle of Ventimiglia is an ancient four towers castle which was built at the end of the 14th century by the Ventimiglia family on the top of Mount Bonifato near Alcamo. Enrico Ventimiglia, the son of Guarnieri Ventimiglia whom he succeeded to, declared that he had this castle built on Mount Bonifato as a protection from possible attacks. According to different interpretations, the castle, instead, would date back to ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Alcamo, Italy

Castello di Mongialino

Castello di Mongialino was first time mentioned in the mid-12th century by Muslim geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi. Later it become a feudal castle of Normans and their descendants. Today it is ruined, but the massive keep exits quite well-preserved.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Mineo, Italy

Serravalle Castle

Serravalle Castle was built in the 13th century and enlarged probably in the 16th century. The stables and other annexed buildings were added in the 19th century. Today the castle exterior is one of the best preserved in the Eastern Sicily.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mineo, Italy

Inici Castle

Inici Castle in Monte Icini mountain existed maybe already in pre-Roman age. The current structure dates mainly from the 11th century. In the 17th century it belonged to Jesuits, who enlarged the site. Later the castle has been restored as a residence and in 1960 there were still 60 people living on it. It was abandoned in 1968 after been damaged by earthquake.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Castellammare del Golfo, Italy

Castle of the Naselli d'Aragona

Il Castle of the Naselli d'Aragona is one of the most important historical buildings in Comiso. The probable construction of the castle took place around the 12th century, thanks to the testimony of several documents from the 13th century which mention its presence. It remained the residence of the noble Naselli family for a long time until, in 1693, the devastating earthquake. Architecture Although a large part of the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Comiso, Italy

Fortino di Mazzallakkar

The Fortino di Mazzallakkar is a ruined Arab fort in Sambuca di Sicilia. It is located near Lago Arancio, and is partially submerged by its waters for six months of every year. The Fortino di Mazzallakkar was built by the Arabs in around 830 AD, possibly to defend the territory around Sambuca di Sicilia, which was then known as Zabut. The fort was still in good condition until the mid-20th century, and it was used as a ...
Founded: 830 AD | Location: Sambuca di Sicilia, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.