The Torre Cabrera was originally built in the 15th century, and was enlarged and rebuilt in the following centuries. Today, it is in good condition and it is open to the public as a museum.
In the 15th century, the site of Pozzallo had natural springs known as 'Pozzofeto' and 'Senia', which were marked on nautical charts and were well known among sailors. When the Chiaramontes, Counts of Modica built a warehouse complex containing docks and ramps for the loading of goods on ships, it became necessary to construct fortifications in order to defend the area. In the early 15th century, King Alfonso V of Aragon authorized Count Giovanni Bernardo Cabrera to construct a tower which bore his name. The coat of arms of the House of Cabrera is sculpted inside the tower.
The tower became an impressive structure and it had great military importance, since it was used to defend Pozzallo from attacks by pirates. The tower was garrisoned by soldiers and gunners, and guns of different calibers were placed on its terraces. Captured pirates or other criminals were executed at the tower by being placed in a room on the rocks and being drowned by the high tide.
The tower was modified and enlarged in the first half of the 16th century, during the reign of Emperor Charles V.
The tower collapsed during the 1693 Sicily earthquake. It was rebuilt, although some modifications were made to its original design.
Today, the tower is in good condition, and it is now open to the public as the Museo della torre Cabrera. The building is a national monument, and it is depicted on the coat of arms of Pozzallo. Some of its windows have been rebuilt in their original style.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.