Maredolce Alla Favara

The present castle was founded by King Roger (1101-54) in the outskirts of Palermo, although there are claims that it was originally a tenth century Arab palace.  According to Archbishop Romuald (d.1182), the king excavated an artificial lake at Favara which he had stocked with exotic fishes.  He then had a beautiful and splendid palace built next to it.  When completed he lived next to it in Lent due to the profusion of fish he kept there.  The place, as Fabariae and therefore including the castle, seems to have been held by King Tancred (d.1194), unless this was Favara castle in the south.  The chapel of Sts. Philip and James was mentioned in 1274.  In 1328 the palace was granted to the Teutonic Knights by Frederick III (d.1337).

The artificial lake of King Roger is long gone, the water source having dried up in the sixteenth century.  The palace is L shaped with an irregular internal courtyard.  It was entered from the northwest, the only side not enclosed by the lake.  One doorway lead to the king's hall and another to the chapel which is central in the northwest wall and has 3 ‘Byzantine' niches at the apse end.  This is similar to the layout in the chapels at Castronovo, Monreale and many other Sicilian churches.  The most important chambers were to the southwest and have double lancet windows.  The northeast wing was probably the original service rooms, but these have been much rebuilt.

The idea that the palace predates the reign of King Roger (d.1154) is substantiated by the base of the southeast wall where the masonry consists of large ashlar blocks, similar to older Greek work, like that found at Syracuse or Erice.  Above this the walls consist of much smaller ashlar work and have rectangular loops and windows, the latter being set in Romanesque blind arches.  The 4 doorways to the northwest are all pointed, while the windows tend to Romanesque as do the blind arches.

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


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