Forte del Santissimo Salvatore

Messina, Italy

The peninsula of San Raineri, on which Forte del Santissimo Salvatore was eventually built, had been inhabited since antiquity, and Greek pottery dating back to the 8th century BC was found at the site. The fort got its name from a monastery and church dedicated to the Holy Saviour, which were built on the peninsula in the Middle Ages. In around 1081, a tower dedicated to Saint Anne was built on the peninsula, and it saw action during the War of the Sicilian Vespers in 1282.

In the 1540s, the fortifications of Messina were being modernized due to fears of the expanding Ottoman Empire. The monastery and other medieval buildings were demolished to make way for Forte del Santissimo Salvatore, but the church and tower were retained and incorporated into the new fort. The fort was completed in 1546 to a design by Antonio Ferramolino, a military engineer from Bergamo. In 1549, the fort's gunpowder magazine blew up, destroying the church in the process.

The fort was captured by local rebels during the 1674 uprising against Spanish rule. After the revolt was suppressed in 1678, the Real Cittadella was built in the centre of the San Ranieri peninsula, close to Forte del Santissimo Salvatore. The fort was damaged during the earthquake of 1783, but was repaired soon afterwards.

During the Sicilian revolution of 1848, the fort and the nearby Cittadella remained in Bourbon hands, and was used to bombarded the city of Messina, which had been captured by rebels. It was eventually captured by Piedmontese forces during the Expedition of the Thousand in 1861.

The fort was again severely damaged in the earthquake of 1908. The walls facing the port of Messina had to be demolished a year later. In 1934, a large statue of Saint Mary, known as the Madonna della Lettera was erected in the fort, on the site of the medieval tower of St. Anne. Some restoration work has been carried out at the fort. It is still military property, being located near the Italian Coast Guard's base in Messina.


The fort has a polygonal shape running along the natural shape of the peninsula. The extremity is occupied by a semi-circular bastion known as Forte Campana. The medieval tower of St. Anne was incorporated into the bastion, and its remains can still be seen.

The fort's land front originally consisted of two bastions linked together by a curtain wall containing the main gate. One of the bastions is still intact, but the other one was demolished after it sustained damage in the earthquake of 1908.

The land front was linked to the semi-circular bastion by two curtain walls, each containing artillery batteries and a small bastion. The wall facing the Strait of Messina is still intact, but the one facing the harbour was demolished after the earthquake.



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Founded: 1546
Category: Castles and fortifications in Italy

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User Reviews

Daniel Butcher Laurie (3 years ago)
coslop 75 (3 years ago)
The fortress is ancient and imposing, the breathtaking view of the Strait, the thrill of being under the beautiful statue of the Madonna della Letter is indescribable ...
Oleg Naumov (3 years ago)
Fortress of Santissimo Salvatore built in 1546 by Emperor Charles V of Holy Roman Empire (1500-1558) also known as King Carlos I of Spain. Allied Christian fleet ubde Don Juan of Austria (1547-1578) set sail from here in 1571 to defeat Ottoman fleet at the sea battle of Lepanto. The author of immortal "Don Quixote of La Mancha", Don Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra (1547-1616) took part in the battle of Lepanto and was badly wounded in his hand during that battle. Surely he was here in the fortress before and after Lepanto.
Sergio Dytz (3 years ago)
Entrada do Porto de Messina
Gheorghe (4 years ago)
The Falcata area, the SS Force, the obelisk, the golden statue of the Virgin, from there out of the sea were witnesses of Messina's history for good and hard. Now it's the naval navy area that has set up a museum, about the tumultuous history of this corner of the world.
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