Termini Imerese Castle is a building located upon a fortress in the upper part of the town, at the base of which there is via Belvedere. This ancient construction offers a wide panoramic view of the Golfo of Termini Imerese, a large bay between Cefalù and Capo Zafferano. Anciently, the Castle had a more complex structure which included many outdoor and indoor spaces: it was considered one of the strongest fortifications in Sicily.

The History of the Castle

First historical informations about the Castle go back a thousand years ago, a period to which an old Arab Castle’s epigraph belongs: “built on behalf of Giaw”. But certainly, the Castle was built before Arab domination in Sicily, since we know it was used as a defensive site. Its value and architectural strongness was celebrated by ancient military personalities such as the Arab Captain Ashed ben Forat which wrote «half of the soldiers must die to conquer the Termini Imerese Castle, if it will happen», words which were proven true by famous historical events. In 292 B.C.,

Termini’s people took refuge in the Castle’s area while Romans attacked the town; in 13th century Charles I of Anjou had to give up the conquest of Sicily thanks to the strong resistance of the Castle; in 1676 a second French attempt failed. Under Bourbons’ command, the structure became a Royal Castle and, together with the town, it was subjected to Spanish laws. In 1860, when Termini rioted against the Bourbons, the Castle was destroyed for the most part by the Spanish soldiers who turnt on the fortification’s storage of gunpowder, even if, according to others, it was Termini’s people during the revolt.

Graphical representations of the structure only began to appear in 16th century thanks to military personalities, geographers and painters which drew the town and its landscape. We know that the Castle included more spaces, both outdoor and indoor ones, towers, ramparts and walls which delimited a wide area. The structures which were located upon the fortress were: the House of the Castellan, barracks, rooms for gunpowder storages and warehouses (called “Magaseni”): they were probably located on a lower level, in the North part of the current Belvedere, where they could be supplied through a road which went to Fossola, the old place where ships docked; an external structure called “Carricatore” was used to take supplies through a sophisticated system of ropes. The Walls had a great extension which included the lower part of the town at the sea level: they were characterized by many towers and bastions, such as the one who was built nearby the “Kalòs Theatre”, the one nearby the old neighborhood “Terravecchia” and the still visible “St. John Baptist’s Bell Tower”, in Villa Palmeri. Remains of the old walls of the town are observable in Porta Palermo. The Castle’s main doors were on the South side of the perimeter while on the East side there was second entrance called “Porta del Soccorso” which were used by the people to escape by the sea.

Despite of its key role in Termini, the Castle was not used during Royal visits.

Bibliografia:

  • “A spasso con Stenio” di Manuela Sinatra e Barbara Indorante
  • “Il castello di Termini” di Rosario Nicchitta
  • “Termini e i suoi castelli” dell’ Avv. Nicolò Marsala

Sitografia: https://beniambientalieculturaliimeresi.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/il-castello/

Revisione: Gentilmente effettuata da Manuela Sinatra

Traduzione: Gentilmente realizzata da Francesco D’Anna

di Francesco D’Anna