The site is an ancient necropolis which became a castle, probably in
the Byzantine period. The name Gagliano seems to derive from
Galaria, the Greek for milk (gala)
and river (rios).
The River Salso is a milky river due both to its torrent and its
richness in potassium salts.
In 858 the castle fell to the Arabs, during their campaign to take the
interior of the island. It is next found in 1142 as a fee of the
family. This would suggest that the castle was in
occupation before that date. By 1296 Castro Gagliani was held by the heirs of Montaneri Peris of Sofa.
The castle lies on a rocky crag some 2,400' above sea level.
In typical Byzantine castle style the fortress is shaped like a
battleship heading west - see Aci for such castles. The main defences are at this end
and consist of a great wall called the Porta Falsa which commands
access to the crag. This consists of an 8' thick wall about
60' long and has a Romanesque gateway with machicolations above and a
gun port set in a Romanesque embrasure beside it. This
controls access via a fortified ramp which curves around the rock to
the north and gives entrance to the main fortress known as Castello
The Castello Rupestre is the oldest part of the castle and contains
houses cut into the rock. These include a hall, rooms,
stairs, passages and walkways carved into the rock. Some of
the rooms would appear to have had 2 floors. At the summit of
this part of the crag is a rectangular tower which has only 2 walls,
the other 2 being made of the living rock. East of this and
beneath it, is what was possibly the castle hall, a structure about 45'
north to south and 20' east to west. Above this fragments of
walls crowd the
craggy summits, making the castle a cross between Caltanissetta and Sperlinga in its layout and
Why not join me at other Sicilian
castles? Information on this and other tours can be found at Scholarly
Paul Martin Remfry