Maniace castle in Syracuse

Maniace castle in Syracuse

Stella - CC4.0


 Via Castello di Maniace, 51 - Siracusa (SR)

The Castello Maniace is a magnificent example of the military architecture of Frederick II.
The castle, which stands on the tip of the port of Ortigia, was built by the will of Frederick II between 1232 and 1240 The name of the castle dates back to the Byzantine general Giorgio Maniace, who reconquered the city from the Arabs in 1038.
The building, with a square plan, is closed by a mighty perimeter wall with four cylindrical towers with octagonal base at the corners. harmoniously inserted in the masonry.
The Maniace Castle is accessible through the carriage door of the former Abela barracks located in Syracuse, in Piazza Federico di Svevia. Crossing the next courtyard there is a brick bridge leading to a door, with side columns, from the Spanish period dating back to the 16th century. This bridge replaced the ancient wooden drawbridge that spanned the moat that surrounded the castle and separated it from the extreme southern tip of Ortigia.
The entrance to the castle is marked by a splayed marble portal with an ogival structure. Above the arch, in 1614, the Spanish coat of arms was placed; on the sides of the portal, two niches were intended to contain two bronze rams, of which only one surviving is kept at the Salinas Museum in Palermo. The two naves covered by cross vaults along the southern side remain of the original structure: the north-east wing, on the other hand, having had the corresponding tower function as a powder magazine, was destroyed by an explosion caused by lightning in 1704. Agli corners of the room, the three surviving groups of stairs, south, north and east towers, are preceded by a vestibule with a barrel vault, divided into two crosses on teardrop corbels.The cylindrical columns, are made of limestone, rest on pedestals polygonal and terminate in capitals with different orders of leaves closed in crochet, where rural scenes, human figures, snakes are represented. The ribs of the vaults rise above the abacus of the capital. In addition to the Frederick building, in the sixteenth century the batteries of guns were installed, to connect it to the rest of the city fortifications. In the seventeenth century, Grunemberg equipped the castle with a spearhead defense and built two semi-guards in the part in front of the entrance. Finally, in the Bourbon period, the casemate was built, recently restored and returned to use.

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