Si Trova: a Siracusa
Lat: 37° 3' 12.96266" N - Long: 15° 17' 43.55166" E
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The Maniace castle is one of the most important monuments of the Swabian period in Sicily, and one of the most beautiful all over the Frederick castles.
His project was conceived by the emperor Frederick II himself; he called the architect Riccardo da Lentini for its construction, which occurred between 1232 and 1240.
The name mistakenly took it from the Byzantine general Giorgio Maniace, who in 1038 reconquered the town by the Arabs.
This is chronologically the first castle of the triptych formed together with the Swabian castles of Augusta and Catania; but while the latter are more strictly military in conception, this seems to have been designed to be a noble residence; it is evident for the large square boulders of which it is composed, and from the architecture that internally composes it.
It currently consists of three building blocks: the Swabian castle, the bastion of Vignazza and the courtyard connecting the town.
The Swabian castle has a square plan, with sides 51 meters wide and 12 meters high, with cylindrical towers at the corners.
Inside, the entire ground floor had to be a single huge hall.
The castle suffered the revolt of the Vespers of 1282; in 1288 King Pietro of Aragon lived there with his family and in 1302 Frederick of Aragon signed there the armistice with the Angevins.
In 1321 it hosted a session of the Sicilian Parliament, apt to sanction the legacy of the son of Alfonso III of Aragon, Frederick III of Aragon.
In 1325 Peter II of Aragon had two forts built to support the Castle.
The castle hosted Queen Constance in 1362, Queen Maria in 1399, Queen Bianca in 1416 and Germana de Foix, wife of Ferdinand the Catholic.
The castle was also the scene of numerous disputes between the Syracusan barons, who did not accept the institution of the Regal Chamber, and the central power.
For almost the entire fifteenth century it was used as a prison.
After 1535 the castle was strengthened against the use of artillery; before the realization of the buttresses that arose in this period, the north-east and south-west walls of the castle were overlooking the sea, the others were flanked by moats on which the drawbridge was lowered.
The Vignazza platform, located towards the sea, was completed in the seventeenth century with the addition of a diamond-shaped defensive bulwark, which constitutes the extreme offshoot of the castle towards the sea.
On November 5, 1704, the building suffered the violent explosion of the powder keg; in the Bourbon period a casemate was built in the courtyard in front of the castle; later the castle remained a military work until the Second World War.
Today it is of public use.
For info: 0931 464420; open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.
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