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 December 11, in the castle of Salemi a confederation made up of Salemi, Trapani, Mazara, Monte San Giuliano and by the barons of Castelvetrano and Partanna was formed which undertook the defense, and bore the costs, of the Queen White and Royal House of Aragon. Salemi was, therefore, more fortified and garrisoned during the raids of the Turks.
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.