Palazzo Corvaja is a medieval palace in Taormina, dating from the 10th century. The origins of the palazzo incorporate an early Arab fortress, which in turn was constructed on Roman foundations. It was subsequently added to over various periods up until the 15th century. Its main body is an Islamic-style tower, and it has an inner courtyard where the Islamic influence can be seen in the arched windows and doorways. A 13th century staircase leads up to the first floor and an ornamental balcony which overlooks the courtyard.
The palace is named after one of the oldest and most famous families of Taormina, which owned it from 1538 to 1945.
On four main floors and constructed around a courtyard, the Moorish Gothic palazzo is crenellated. The principal floor has fenestration of pairs of lancet windows divided by columns. The courtyard walls are decorated by reliefs illustrating The Creation.
Today the palazzo is used as an exhibition centre.References:
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.