Civic Museum Ursino Castle in Catania

Civic Museum Ursino Castle in Catania

Francesco Lombardi - CC4.0


 Piazza Federico di Svevia - Catania (CT)

Ursino Castle in Catania was built between the end of 1239 and the beginning of 1240 at the behest of Frederick II.
The construction of the Ursino Castle was part of a large fortification project started in previous years in eastern Sicily by Frederick II. Despite the economic difficulties in those years forced the interruption of the works in most of the other Sicilian castles, the Catania castrum was built in a short time, also for fear of a possible city revolt, as the emperor invited the people of Catania to pay a sum of two hundred ounces in gold for the construction of the castle.
It is difficult for those who visit it today to imagine its original strategic location. The eruption of 1669 modifying the relationship of the building with the ground and its position within the city fabric distorts its original vocation. The lava flow surrounds it, leaving the structure almost intact but destroying its military functionality. The view of the Castle is also altered, made less impressive by the "leveling" of the land.
The structure of the Castle expresses the essential aspects of Federician architecture: a rigorously geometric plan defined by a double square perimeter with a large internal courtyard in the center. A perfectly regular and symmetrical structure that repeats itself, marked by four corner towers and four median towers, two of which still exist.
Since its construction, the castle has been in use almost constantly. In the century XIII maintained the character of a fortress and later became the royal residence of the Aragonese. It was used as a prison (the prisoners' graffiti can still be seen in the courtyard) and later used as a barracks. Restored in the Fascist era, since 1934 the Castle has housed the civic collections in which the Medieval, Renaissance and Modern archaeological sections are present. In 1988 began the restoration aimed at recovering the city of Catania a monument of inestimable value of its historical and cultural heritage.

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