The construction of the castle started around 1165, during the reign of William I of Sicily, and was completed by his son, William II, in 1175.
The castle was not substantially modified until the 17th century. Significant restoration work took place between 1635 and 1636, when Juan de Sandoval, knight of Alcantara, bought the castle. Another floor was added, closing the terrace, and a large staircase was built.
Subsequently, in 1806, Zisa came into the possesion of the Notarbartolo princes, representatives of the old Sicilian nobility and heirs of the Ducal House of Sandoval de Leon, who made it their residence, carrying out various consolidation works.
In 1955, the building was expropriated by the Italian State, and the restoration work, which began immediately, was suspended shortly after. After fifteen years of neglect, in 1971, the right wing collapsed.
The project for the reconstruction was entrusted to Professor Giuseppe Caronia, who, after about twenty years of passionate work, in June 1991, gave back to the world one of the most beautiful buildings of the Sicilian Norman civilization. Since 1991, the Zisa houses the Museum of Islamic Art.
The Sala della Fontana (Fountain Hall), by far the most characteristic architectural element of the entire building, has a square plan surmounted by an ogival vault, with three large niches on each side of the room. On the axis of the main entrance is the fountain surmounted by a mosaic panel on a gold background, under which flows the water into a channel which cuts the floor of the room and reaches the fish pond in front.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest station is Guerrazzi, about 300 meters away from the castle, on the bus Line 124. If you want to discover the city on foot, use the map below.