The fortress is claimed to have been built by the Normans before 1100 on a site already fortified by the Arabs.  However, the battleship layout of the site, like Aci, Calatabiano, Castelmola, Cefala DianaNicosia, Rometta, Sperlinga, Taormina and Vicari, suggests more of a Byzantine foundation.  The castle is said to have played an important role during the War of the Sicilian Vespers and from before 1296 it belonged to the Catalan Peter Lancia (d.1335+).  He was married to a daughter of Artale Alagon who was powerful in the Catania region and was recorded as holding the fortress in the late 1320s.  In 1469, when the Aragonese ruled Sicily, Delia castle was modified and enlarged.  The nearby town of Delia was only founded in 1622 by Don Gaspar Lucchese after obtaining a permission to build and populate the town from King Philip II of Spain (d.1598).

The castle mainly occupies a narrow N-S running stone ridge, the bulk of the fortress being no more than 30' wide, although it is some 220' long.  To the SW is a rectangular outer ward with a rectangular turret at the SE apex. This covers most of the west side of the castle.  The main castle, despite the outer ward to the west, was entered from the east via a north facing gateway.  This has been heavily restored and the modern concrete approach adorned with the remains of 2 Greek or Roman pillars.  The gate seems to have had an ogival arch although this has been much rebuilt.  This form of arch is first found in eighth century Islamic structures, although the passageway appears to have been barrel vaulted.  Perhaps the nearest example to this style is the main gateway at Sperlinga.  Within the gateway are many caverns that have been converted into storage cisterns.  South of the gate is the outer ward which encases the base of the rock and runs round to the west.

Steps up the back of the gateway led to further steps up the rock face protected by a covering wall.  This leads to a barrel vaulted room half built into the rock with narrow lighting loops.  The doorways and loops in this section of the castle seem Romanesque, but they could be heavily worn ogival embrasures.  Modern platforms allow access to the rebuilt battlements.  The chamber to the north with its 5 loops may have been an elongated D shaped tower.

Why not join me here and at other Sicilian castles?  Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly Sojourns.


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry