Mount Kassar

Standing high above Castronovo di Sicily is the plateau of Mount Kassar.  This was fortified by the Byzantines against Arab aggression some time probably soon after their annexation of Africa in 639-98.  Excavation has shown that the fortress ceased to be used after the capture of eastern Sicily by the Arabs.  Quite possibly the site was the qasr al-jadid that fell to Arab forces in 857-58 and was followed the next year by the fall of Enna - a fortress of similar dimensions.  Whether the true castle lower down the slope at Colle San Vitale was founded by the Arabs after the
fall of the main fortress or was already an integral part of the defences is another matter.

Mount Kassar fortress form a D shape above Castronovo di Sicily with all the fortifications lying on the straight side of the bow to the north, some 1½ miles long.  Like Hadrian's Wall these defences utilise the lie of the land and consist of 11 rectangular towers with 2 twin towered gatehouses.  The eastern gatehouse has been fully excavated and shows that it was defended with twin gates with a portcullis behind.  The area behind the defences is divided into an upper and a lower section due to the geography of the land, while the rest of the C of the bow appear to have no defences at all, apart from the cliffs and steep slope.  The area defended by the wall is roughly similar to that thought to have been occupied by the fortress of Enna, suggesting that the 2 were built as part of the same defensive system.

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


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