Montechiaro, otherwise known as Chiaramontano castle, may have been started in 1358 by Count Frederick Chiaramonte of Modica (d.1363).  Certainly it was in his possession at his death.  In 1392, after the execution of Count Andrew Chiaramonte, King Martin (d.1409) gave the castle to William Raymond Moncada.  He rebelled 5 years later and the castle was given to Giovanni Grixo and then Palmerio Caro, whose family held the fortress until the mid seventeenth century. 

The castle, on a hill overlooking the little bay of Sirene some distance from Palma di Montechiaro, is set on a rocky ridge.  The heart of the fortress is a 2 storey rhomboid keep which is part of the polygonal enclosure.  In some ways Montechiaro resembles a mini Caccamo, but many of the features of the castle have been obscured by a heavy restoration in the early part of the century which rescued the ruins from further decay.

Entrance to the castle is gained from the south via a barbican, somewhat similar to the one found at Taormina.  Externally this has a pointed gateway.  To the northeast is a long rectangular building that consists of at least 2 separate parts.  The larger southern portion is made of a loose rubble and has Romanesque windows in its upper floor and 2 straight loops on the ground floor.  Its south wall is ashlar, as is its northern third.  Obviously it is a composite structure and shows that the castle was of at least 2 phases and not one as is generally stated.  The building now houses the chapel, which contains the Madonna di Montechiaro - a marble statue sculpted by Antonello Gagini (1478-1536).  Beneath this may be a cistern.  West of the keep is a smaller block, again of 2 storeys.  Judging from old photographs, the battlements are all modern.

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


Copyright©2019 Paul Martin Remfry