Mussomeli

The castle is thought to have been built by Count Manfred III Chiaramonte of Modica (d.1391) between 1364 and 1367.  However, if that is the case, it doesn't answer the question why it was built in Norman-Gothic style, that style having been obsolete for over a century.  As there are also the ruins of a Greek acropolis some 4 miles to the NE of the castle at Polizzello it might suggest that the castle site may have been occupied much longer than is generally accepted.  The style of the castle is often compared with the Steri palace in Palermo, built by the Chiaramonte family before 1320.

Description
The castle defences cover the approach to the top of an 2,552' high limestone crag.  Near the base of the rock a polygonal wall blocks the approach road, forming a first line of defence.  Within this, over a drawbridge and through the inturned gate, flanked by 2 worn coats of arms, is a vaulted stable, 121'x21'.  This appears to have been for 50 horses and has been partially re-roofed.  The loops in the outer curtain are narrow and ogival within.  The curtain wall defending this lower part of the crag is still mostly battlemented.

From the entrance gate the road zig-zags up the hill towards the summit where a second line of defence defends the residential part of the castle.  Once more the gate is set back from th enceinte, somewhat like at Erice.  The crest over the door appears to be 3 eagles for the Del Campo family.  Within is a chapel and a hall of slightly later date.  To the east of the entrance gate is a small D shaped garderobe turret whose summit has been sheared off when the battlements above were erected.  These survive around most of the E&S sides.  On the westernmost summit of the hill, only attached to the north curtain due to the nature of the land between it and the south curtain, are the foundations of a powerful rectangular keep about 40' N-S and 25' E-W.  This undoubtedly is the oldest part of the castle and probably dates back to the Norman period.  The inner gate and much of the rest of the inner ward has Romanesque arches, which again proclaim its early origins.  The twin light windows appear similar to those at Erice.





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


 

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