Manorbier Castle is a Norman castle founded in the late 11th century. The land was granted to Odo de Barri, a Norman knight. Initially, he constructed a motte-and-bailey castle on the site which had a wooden keep defended by a palisade and earthworks embankments. In the early part of the 12th century, William de Barri, Odo's son, used locally quarried Limestone to strengthen the fortification.
In the castle's history, it was only attacked twice; both were minor skirmishes. In 1327, Richard de Barri assaulted Manorbier in a dispute over family succession. Then 300 years later during the English Civil War, the castle was seized in 1645 by Parliamentarian forces. It was then slighted to prevent further military use by the Royalists.
Through the 17th and 18th centuries, Manorbier fell into decay. However, in 1880 the castle was partially restored by J.R.Cobb, a tenant who carried out repairs to the buildings and walls.
Manorbier is a rectangular enclosure castle that has curtain walls and round and square towers. It stands on a natural coastal promontory and has no external moat. The main entrance to the inner ward is a tower gateway that was defended by a portcullis, roof embrasures and a heavy iron/wood door. A postern gate provided access to the beach and the sea. The southeast tower is round; the northeast is angular. The castle's domestic ranges, which were completed in the 1140s, included kitchens, apartments and a Great hall. Windows replaced the arrowslits in the domestic range. A chapel with elaborate vaulting and plaster-work was built c. 1260. Some of the original medieval frescoes survive.
Earthworks completed an outer ward. There was no barbican. A bridge across a neck ditch linked the inner and outer wards.
The castle is privately owned and is open to the public together with the gardens, the dovecote and the mill. The castle is a wedding venue. A part has been converted into a holiday cottage.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.