The castle of Cammarata
The history of the castle
We have no news to date of documents that can testify the origins of the castle, so not only the period of its construction is unknown, but also the identity of the lord who ordered its construction. The first documents in which we read of the castle date back to 1100 and refer to the dominion of Lucia. «In the first documents on Cammarata, Lucia's donations, the" castellum Cameratae "is named as the title of the town; it is therefore to be thought that if there had not been a castle the denomination would have no sense. Therefore it is not illogical to believe that, since those times, at least, a fortified castle existed, also due to the position of the very high place of the military fortifications, with a town around it, of which Lucia was the "dominatrix". "Barone and Giarratana in thesis "Problems of the Territory of Cammarata" state: "It seems reasonable to suppose that the castle is contemporary or slightly later than the rise of the town itself, bearing in mind that the initial raison d'etre of the castle in general, as its main function, is that of protecting the underlying farmhouse, its economy, its interests and therefore guaranteeing its existence and development. "In fact," The castle ... dominates the village and can be thought of as having risen after the inhabited center. "Francesco Caruso, on the other hand, he writes that the castle is the oldest in the town: «Castrum antiquius oppido admirabili conditum artificio».
«Of them, - Barone and Giarratana write - only two are still visible today; of one you can only see some ruins on which the ancient noble coat of arms of the Palizzi that received the fiefdom of Cammarata by Frederick II in the year 1302 is clearly legible. The second is instead better preserved and has long been used as a district prison ; on the outside the noble coat of arms of the Moncada family is clearly legible. From the examination of the remaining ruins it is possible to establish that the layout is substantially rectangular; of the longer sides, the one facing west measures 50 meters, while the length of the east side is 52 meters. The south side measures 38 meters; on this side you can see the ruins of one of the two remaining towers, from which it can be deduced that its shape was circular.The north side, finally, is strengthened by the other tower also of circular shape, whose radius is meters 3.50, with a wall thickness of 2.20 meters ».
"After the end of feudalism between the municipality and the Paternò heirs" a long controversy arose. Only «in 1838 the castle was occupied by the Municipality. Later Vincenzo Collari bought it ”, who sold it to Don Giuseppe Longo from whom it passed“ to the Salesians, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, to establish an orphanage there ”.
The castle tower is open to the public on certain occasions, It is found send Pia door between 4/15. It is recommended to walk there from via Roma. Reference: URP Cammarata 0922 593880
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According to Pasca, the castle was "built by Bartolomeo di Aragona in 1384" while Tirrito "believes it was built by Ottobono de Aurea, around 1340". The assumptions of Pasca and Tirrito must be understood not as "ex novo" foundations, but as extensive restructuring and expansion of the primitive nucleus up to the current complex configuration. Rodo Santoro - scholar of Sicilian castles - states: «The castle was born from a small farmhouse with a tower and fortified walls.
Subsequently this nucleus will accentuate its castle character with progressive enlargements and reinforcements in the volumetry of the defensive elements, while the residential nucleus will be moved further down to the orographically underlying site to form the so-called "Terra", that is the feudal village. The latter, for defensive reasons, will also be surrounded by a wall, but must always remain detached from the castle. From the twelfth to the fourteenth century the primitive fortification on the rocky plateau will progress architecturally until it reaches the size of a large castle with four towers ».
«In the castle - writes Msgr. De Gregorio - the lords of Cammarata lived for a long time ... You can see an image of it, as it was at the beginning of 1600, in the painting of S. Ignazio and S. Francesco Saverio in the Mother Church: it is a quadrangular building with four towers and is surrounded by crenellated walls and defense works. It is isolated from the other buildings of the town and dominates from the hill on which it stands, in a truly strategic position, difficult to take because it is defended to the north-east by the overhanging fortress on which it rests and to the east and south and west by the other fortifications " .
The earthquake of 1537, the neglect of time and the poor resistance of the ground have over time produced serious damage to the castle of which the western part and two of the towers collapsed.
How it looks today
Entrance to the museum
Show period clothing
A strata carrozza (via Roma)
To get to the castle tower where you can first admire a beautiful view of San Giovanni Gemini, we recommend a nice walk trying to park in the Via Roma Alta area, or even better it would be to park in via Padre Pio where there is a lot of parking possibilities and go a little longer but without having peace of mind as the streets are very narrow in this historic area. Then another idea would be: Going up from Via Coffari you can get to the living nativity area of Cammarata and venture into the Arab quarter Called "Mastia" for sure you will have fun seeing all the small alleys and ancient houses attached to the rock.
Special thanks: Video by Giuseppe Coniglio