Citadel of Messina: an historical puzzle to reconstruct while walking

castles of Sicily: citadel of Messina

While you’re visiting Messina, think about how old is the city where you are. Its long history begins in 757 BC. Because of its strategic importance, Messina was a place to defend. Erecting castles. Fighting in the fortified citadel, new leg of the journey to discover the castles of Sicily.


The history

  • The citadel of Messina was built by the Spanish to defend the city against internal threats: to repress the frequent uprisings of Messina.
  • The works to build the fortified citadel lasted for six years, from 1680 to 1686.
  • For two hundred years, from the Eighteenth century to the Nineteenth century, the citadel of Messina was at the center of all the historical events that shook the city of the Straits.
  • The most difficult time for the citadel was in 1861, the period of strong resistance of the Bourbon garrison.
  • After resisting for centuries to assaults and bombings, the citadel could not do anything against neglect and abandonment: it was sacked by those who wanted to destroy all the symbols of the Bourbon regime.


The fortified citadel

For the construction of the fortified citadel, was chosen braccio di San Raineri, now known as the zona falcata di Messina. The pentagonal fortress was impregnable: it was surrounded by water, while south and north sides were reinforced by bastions.

Among the surviving buildings of this impressive fortification, there are a couple of apartment blocks, a series of tunnels in the fort of Santo Stefano, the Santo Stefano counterguard, Opera Carolina and Opera San Francesco.


The citadel of Messina is a sort of large puzzle, to reconstruct piece by piece and discover one the less-known part of the city on the Strait.


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