Top historic sites in Sicily

Castello di Lombardia

The Castello di Lombardia iis one of the largest and most ancient edifices in Italy, with an area of some 26,000 m2. The castle"s origins are related to a fortress erected in the 1st millennium BC by the Sicani on the foundation of the ancient Henna, on a hill 970 m above sea level. It remained a key possession in the subsequent history of the island, and the Romans were able to conquer it only by passing thro ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Enna, Italy

Roman Amphitheatre of Syracuse

The Roman amphitheatre is located in the ancient suburb of Neapolis, in what is now an archaeological park, near the Greek theatre and the Altar of Hieron. The amphitheatre is on a different orientation to these other structures and probably follows the lines of an urban plan developed in the late classical period, which is reflected by the street discovered near the Sanctuary of Demeter in the suburb of Achradina. The ma ...
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Syracuse, Italy

Castello della Zisa

The Zisa is a castle in the western part of Palermo. It is included in the UNESCO Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale World Heritage Site. The construction was begun in the 12th century by Arabian craftsmen for king William I of Sicily , and completed by his son William II. The edifice had been conceived as summer residence for the Norman kings, as a part of the large hunting resort kno ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Palermo, Italy

Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo (Catacombe dei Cappuccini) are burial catacombs. Today they provide a somewhat macabre tourist attraction as well as an extraordinary historical record. Palermo"s Capuchin monastery outgrew its original cemetery in the 16th century and monks began to excavate crypts below it. In 1599 they mummified one of their number, recently dead brother Silvestro of Gubbio, and placed hi ...
Founded: 1599 | Location: Palermo, Italy

Caccamo Castle

The Castello di Caccamo is among the largest and best preserved Norman castles in Sicily, and one of the largest in Italy. The castle is built on a steep cliff. The castle as it is today was built by Matthew Bonnellus in the 12th century. It was later modified by the Chiaramontes in the 14th century, and by other rulers until the 17th century. Caccamo castle is a large structure built of white stone, having an irregular ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Caccamo, Italy

Akrai

Akrai was a Greek colony founded in Sicily by the Syracusans in 663 BC. It was among the first colonies of Syracuse founded by Corinthian colonists arriving in Sicilian territory. Constructed on the peak of a hill, Akrai was difficult to attack and at the time of its construction an ideal point for watching the surrounding territory. By the treaty concluded by the Romans with Hieron II, king of Syracuse (270 - 215 BC), A ...
Founded: 663 BCE | Location: Palazzolo Acreide, Italy

Late Baroque Town of Ragusa

The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Ragusa, Italy

Milazzo Castle

The Castello di Milazzo is located on the summit of a hill overlooking the town, on a site first fortified in the Neolithic era. The castle was built as a result of the strategic importance of the Milazzo peninsula, which commands the Gulf of Patti, the body of water that separates Sicily from the Aeolian Islands. It also commands one of Sicily"s most important natural harbours. The Greeks modified it into an acropo ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Milazzo, Italy

Tyndaris

The monumental ruins of ancient Tyndaris are a main attraction in current day Tindari. Tyndaris was strategically situated on its prominent hill overlooking the wide bay of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was one of the latest of all the cities in Sicily that could claim a purely Greek origin, having been founded by the elder Dionysius in 396 or 395 BC. By the 19th century, the site of Tyndaris was wholly deserted, but the name w ...
Founded: 396 BCE | Location: Tindari, Italy

Montalbano Elicona Castle

The Montalbano Elicona Castle is considered as one of the most beautiful monuments in Sicily. It was built in the 12th century by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II on pre-existing byzantine and Arab walls. The intent of Frederick II was to provide Sicily a series of strong defensive buildings around the island. The well preserved extensive walls of the castle are easily seen throughout the town. From on top of the Vall ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Montalbano Elicona, Italy

Selinunte

Selinunte was one of the most important of the ancient Greek colonies in Sicily. It was founded, according to the historian Thucydides, by a colony from the Sicilian city of Megara Hyblaea, in the 7th century BCE. At its peak before 409 BC the city may have contained up to 30,000 people, excluding slaves. In 409 BCE Carthaginian Hannibal crushed and plundered Selinunte, saving only women and children. Thus this is the en ...
Founded: 7th century BCE | Location: Marinella di Selinunte, Italy

Salemi Castle

The castle of Salemi is one of the best preserved castles in Sicily. Inside, the library and the resurgence museum are housed. The castle has Norman origins and dominates the town with its trapezoidal shape and square, 20 meters high, corner towers, and a cylindrical tower. The castle was built by Norman King Roger around 1077 to the site of Roman-Arab fort. Frederick II altered it in the 13th century. In 1441, on Decem ...
Founded: c. 1077 | Location: Salemi, Italy

Necropolis of Pantalica

The Necropolis of Pantalica is a collection of cemeteries with rock-cut chamber tombs in southeast Sicily. Dating from the 13th to the 7th centuries BC., there was thought to be over 5,000 tombs, although the most recent estimate suggests a figure of just under 4,000. Together with the city of Syracuse, Pantalica was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. In the 13th century BC, some Sicilian coastal settlements ...
Founded: 13th century BCE | Location: Sortino, Italy

Lilibeo

Lilibeo or Lilybaion was originally a Carthaginian city founded around 397 BCE. It became soon a dynamic trade and handicraft centre. In the Hellenistic period it was a multiethnic town where Punic, Greek and Roman people lived together. After a long siege, it was subdued by the Romans in the first Punic war in 241 BCE. Cicero mentioned Lilibeo in 76-75 BCE as a 'magnificient town'. During the age of Emperor Se ...
Founded: 397 BCE | Location: Marsala, Italy

Morgantina

Morgantina is an archaeological site in east central Sicily. It was inhabited in several periods. According to Strabo Morgantina was founded by a pre-Roman Italian group known as the Morgetes of Rhegium. Dionysius of Halicarnassus wrote that the Morgetes were led by a king named Morges. The earliest historical date associated with Morgantina is 459 BCE, when Ducetius, leader of the indigenous Sicel population of central S ...
Founded: 5th century BCE | Location: Aidone, Italy

Temple of Victory

The Greek Temple of Victory (Greek Nikē) was located in the ancient city of Himera, today in the archaeological area of Termini Imerese. The temple dates to the fifth century BC and has been identified with the temple built by the Carthaginians at the command of the tyrant Gelon of Syracuse, who commanded the Greek coalition which defeated them at the Battle of Himera in 480 BC. Probably dedicated to Athena, the build ...
Founded: 5th century BC | Location: Termini Imerese, Italy

Mussomeli Castle

Mussomeli Castle is a magic and evocative palace where it is possible to enjoy a breathtaking view of the coastline. Built in 1370 by Manfredi Chiaramonte III, this Norman-Gothic castle stands in a strategic position overlooking the whole valley as it is on top of a high limestone crag almost 800 meters above sea level.  The Mussomeli Castle has not undergone radical changes throughout its history therefore you can get ...
Founded: 1370 | Location: Mussomeli, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.