Castles of Sicily tour: visit the imposing castello Ursino

castles of Sicily: the castello Ursino

It is a symbol of Catania. An impressive fortress, it is the silent witness of eight hundred years of history of Catania. And it is the next stage of the tour to discover the castles of Sicily: it is the castello Ursino.

 

The history

  • Originally, the place, where the austere castello Ursino was built between 1239 and 1250, was a plateau surrounded by the sea: the origin of the name is “castrum sinus”, which means “castle of the gulf”. It was built by Frederick II of Swabia.
  • In the Fourteenth century, the castle became the residence of the Aragoneses.
  • The eruption of Etna in 1669 changed the area where the castle was build: after the lava flow, the castle was a kilometer inland.
  • Its imposing defensive walls were built in the mid-Eighteenth century. Later, the southern part of the castle was restructured according to Renaissance architectural style.
  • As many other castles of Sicily, the castello Ursino was used as a prison, in 1837.
  • Today, castello Ursino houses the Museo civico and a precious art gallery.

 

The castle

Frederick II liked the geometric shapes and castello Ursino Castle, to see during every vacation to Catania, is proof of this: it has a squared structure with four corner towers. The entrance is surmounted by the Swabian coat of arms (an eagle clawing a hare). Among the most important things to see, there are:

  • richly decorated halls
  • precious statues (such as Aphrodite and the Gladiators)
  • the pictures of the art gallery

 

How to get there

The castello Ursino is easy to reach from the port of Catania: from the state highway 114, you need only to follow the road signs to via Grimaldi, the castle is there.

 

Previous stage: castello di Adrano | Next stage: forte Vittoria

 

Image source: Flickr.com/photos/saxen