The Castle of Palma de Montechiaro was built in 1353. It is the only castle of the Chiaramonte family that is situated at the seaside, on a cliff known as the Bay of the Sirens. It was founded by Frederick III Chiaramonte, then transferred to his successors Manfredi II, I and Andrea, who beheaded him. His possessions were seized and the ownership of the castle was transferred to the family Caro, who erased the memory of the previous gentlemen, changing its name into Montechiaro. Francesca Caro married Carlo Tomasi, the Duke of Palma and Prince of Lampedusa. The last owner with the name Tomasi was the author of the famous novel The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
You can reach the castle via a steep pebbly road full of pebbles. The ground floor houses the chapel with a marble statue of the Madonna di Montechiara designed by Antonello Gaginis.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.