Squillace Castle was built on the ruins of a monastery when the Normans conquered Squillace in 1044. Throughout the years it was conquered and ruled by various families – one of which being the Borgia family. The Borgia family was an Italian-Spanish noble family that become prominent during the Italian Renaissance. Between 1494 and 1735, Squillace was governed by the Borgia Princes.
In 1793, an earthquake severely damaged parts of the castle but that didn’t stop King Giuseppe Bonaparte (Napoleon’s older brother – the King of Naples and Sicily, and later King of Spain), from turning the castle into a prison which remained this way until 1978.
At this point, the castle began its restoration and the results can be seen today. It doesn’t have the appearance of its original structure but there is an interesting mesh of architectural structures giving the castle its unique look. The exterior of the castle is made up of two towers – one of which is cylindrical while they other is polygonal. The main entrance has the Borgia family coat of arms proudly displayed and around the piazza there are still remnants of the outer walls.
During renovations in 1994, two mysterious and infamous guests were discovered. Two skeletons were unearthed in the polygonal tower wrapped in a tender eternal embrace. They date back to anywhere between 1200 and 1300 AD.
What intrigued researchers the most was not only their position but the fact that the skeletons didn’t appear to be local people. There is still much debate on who these “two lovers” are and what led to their sad fate – perhaps we will never know.
In the meantime, you can visit the small museum and see these mysterious guests on display with other artifacts that were found during the excavation.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.