The Cuba Palace in Palermo was built in 1180 by William II of Sicily in his great Royal Park, as his personal recreation pavilion, together with an artificial lake: it shows strong Fatimid art influences, as it was (at least partially) designed and decorated by Arab artists still living in Palermo after the Norman conquest in 1072. During the rule of Bourbon kings of Naples it was annexed to a barracks. In the 16th century it was turned into a lepers' colony.
The edifice has a rectangular plan, with massive forms. The four façades are marked by blind arcades, small windows, and niches. The name Cuba derives in fact from its approximately cubical form. The famous Italian Middle Ages author Boccaccio was impressed by the Cuba and set here one of the novellas included in the Decameron.
The Cubola or Little Cuba is another edifice built by William II for his park, in smaller dimensions. The most striking feature of the Cubola is the little hemi-spherical cupola.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick.