Castello Maniace is one of the most important monuments of the Swabian period, a magnificent example of the military architecture of the Roman Emperor Frederick II, located on the tip of the island of Ortygia, in Syracuse.
The name of the castle derives from Giorgio Maniace, a Byzantine general who, in 1038, regained the city of Syracuse from the hands of the Arabs.
The castle has a massive quadrilateral structure of 51 meters per side and about 12 meters high. At the four corners of the building are four cylindrical towers. The average thickness of the walls is about 3.5 meters.
On the place where the castle stands today, strategically important for the defense of the harbour, there were fortifications since the time of the Greeks.
The building of the castle is attributed to Emperor Frederick II, who entrusted its construction to the architect Riccardo da Lentini, shortly after returning from the Crusade in the Holy Land.
The construction took place between 1232 and 1239. In 1266, the castle passed to the Angevins and, in 1282, it was conquered by the Syracusans in the revolt of April 11. In 1325, Peter II of Sicily, the son of the King Frederick III of Sicily, built two forts supporting the castle.
For almost the entire 15th century, the castle was used as a prison. After 1535, the Viceroy Ferrante I Gonzaga gave the assignment of strengthening the castle to the famous military engineer Ferramolino da Bergamo. In 1540, the Admiral Andrea Doria made the castle his residence during the expedition organized by Charles V against the Muslims.
In the Bourbon period, the castle reacquired its military functions and was equipped with guns. Even after the Unification of Italy, Castello Maniace remained an important military structure, which was used for defence until the Second World War.
HOW TO GET THERE
The castle is situated about 2.3 kilometers away from the Syracuse train station or about 30 minutes on foot, on the tip of the island of Ortygia. If you plan on walking to the castle, use the map below.