Montalbano Elicona: a Medieval fortress that guards Nebrodi mounts

castles of Sicily: Montalbano Elicona

It is in the province of Messina. If the castle of Milazzo is massive and imposing, the one of Montalbano Elicona seems perfectly integrated with the homonymous village. And it is another demonstration of how the tour of the castles of Sicily is full of charm.

 

The history

  • Originally, the area where now the castle stands was an ancient Roman fortress. Subsequent Byzantine and Arabic fortifications enlarged the structure.
  • The castle of Montalbano was built in its present form between 1302 and 1311: it was part of the project with which Frederick Barbarossa wanted to create a fortification system to defend the territory.
  • For this purpose, the castle was built on Nebrodi mounts to protect the valley, the river, the routes, the Tyrrhenian coast and the ridges of Nebrodi.
  • The structure of the castle has changed a lot over the centuries depending on the different peoples that inhabited it.
  • Since the Fourteenth century, the castle lost its defensive function and was used for various purposes: first it became baronial mansion, then Jesuit house and finally it housed public offices. The structure of the castle was changed from time to time to adapt to the new functions.

 

The castle

The castle has a circular plan with a central courtyard, with two wings and a fortified tower that stands on a rocky outcrop. Today, the castle has been restored and can be visited. But there are only few examples of what was its former glory: the imposing perimeter walls, the remains of a tower, a beautiful chapel.

 

How to get there

Montalbano Elicona is in the province of Messina. To get to the castle from the city on the Strait:

  • take E90 motorway towards Palermo
  • once you arrive in Falcone, take the county road 103 to Belvedere
  • from Belvedere follow the road signs to Santa Barbara
  • from Santa Barbara take the county road 112 to Toscano
  • from Toscano take the county road 110 to Montalbano Elicona

The journey by car takes one and a quarter hours.

 

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Image source: Flickr.com/photos/alessandrogrussu