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 acropolis, and it was later enlarged into a castrum by the Romans and Byzantines.
In around 843, the Arabs began to build a castle on the ruins of the Greek, Roman and Byzantine fortifications. The castle's keep possibly dates back to this era. The castle was enlarged by the Normans and Swabians. It was extensively modified during the reign of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.
Between 1496 and 1508, the Aragonese built walls with six semi-circular bastions, encircling the original medieval castle. Between 1525 and 1540, the Spanish built bastioned fortifications around the Aragonese walls and the settlement which surrounded it, expanding the castle into a citadel. The new fortifications were designed by the military engineers Pietro Antonio Tomasello and Antonio Ferramolino. Some outworks were added in the 17th century. Several civil buildings began to be built within the walls of the castle, including the old cathedral and various palaces.
The castle was in Habsburg hands in the first half of the 18th century, before being taken over by the Bourbons. The latter retained the castle until they lost Milazzo to Giuseppe Garibaldi in 1860. The castle was subsequently converted into a prison in 1880, and underwent a number of alterations. The prison closed in 1959 and the castle remained abandoned for a couple of decades.
It is now in good condition, and open to the public.References:
Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore.
The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.
At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor.
‘Queen Mary’s Room’, also on the first floor, is where Mary is said to have slept when staying at Craigmillar. However, it is more likely she occupied a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.
Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary, whom she appointed as Provost of Edinburgh. In this capacity, he was her host for her first night as a prisoner, at his townhouse in the High Street, on 15 June 1567. She was taken to Lochleven Castle the following day.
The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.
The 15th-century courtyard wall is well preserved, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. Ancillary buildings lie within it, including a private family chapel.