Butera – Falconara Castle

SS115, Butera, CL, Italia
Castello di Butera - Castello di Falconara

Falconara Castle, also known as Butera Castle, represents the main tourist attraction of the area. The fortress stands on a promontory surrounded by greenery, offering a unique panoramic view of the coastline. Dating back to the 15th century, the structure was built to control the territory from potential Turkish invasions that occurred between the 1500s and 1700s, a period marked by widespread attacks in the Mediterranean. Subsequently, the fortress was expanded to strengthen its defenses; walls, embrasures, and moats were constructed to prevent pirate attacks, both by sea and by land.

The tower of Butera Castle, not only served to defend the surrounding territory but also acted as a defense for the entire Sicilian region. It was part of a coastal defense circuit with the task of overseeing the area that exends from Licata to Gela (then called Torrenova) and potentially attacking with the “cannon” placed inside it.

Historically, the tower was used for falcon breeding, hence its name “della Falconara.” Despite changing ownership, this activity remained unchanged over time. Various families resided in the castle, beginning with the Santapau family, who initiated their tenure with Ugone, a descendant of the noble family of Adamara. The castle was gifted to them by King Martino as a reward for their assistance against enemies. It then passed into the hands of Lord Ambrogio di Santapau Branciforte, who became the prince of Butera. Eventually, it was sold to Baron Antonio Chiaramonte Bordonaro, who decided to renovate the entire fortress, reorganize the space for residential purposes, and add various architectural elements such as staircases, colonnades, friezes, capitals, pilasters, plasterwork, and marble seats. The aim was to preserve the tower’s structure in a typically Aragonese style while expanding it to provide a comfortable residence for the family. The expansion took place over several years, making it difficult to attribute each modification to a specific historical period, as the architectural evolution occurred over extended periods.

The interiors of Butera Castle are spacious and feature refined furniture and decorations in a royal style. Additionally, there are objects belonging to the Chiaramonte Bordonaro family, such as collections of ceramics, paintings, and hunting trophies from Kenya, won by Baron Gabriele Chiaramonte.

Part of the structure is delimited by a crenellated wall, leaving one wing free and built in the nineteenth century. This section faces the coastline and features a terrace that offers breathtaking sea views. The main entrance of the castle is marked by a large arched doorway, a gun port, and two shelves displaying unique objects. Upon entering the structure, visitors are greeted by a rectangular courtyard with stables and warehouses. Within the architectural complex is also a private chapel built with Modica stone, while the load-bearing walls were constructed with uniform gypsum and lime stonework.

Today, the beauty of the castle is complemented by an exclusive resort located in the adjacent park. Owned by the Bordonaro family, the resort offers guests every possible comfort. In addition to being able to access and visit the castle, guests can admire a rare and unique plant, the round-palm flowering prickly pear.

Furthermore, the castle is used for important and special events, accommodating attendees in either the Tower Hall or the Birds’ Hall, with respective capacities of 230 and 220 people.