Catania – Ursino Castle

Piazza Federico II, Catania, CT, Italia
castello ursino -catania

The Ursino castle was built by Frederick II of Swabia in the XIII century, it was the seat of the parliament and later the residence of the sovereigns of Sicily. The architect Riccardo da Lentini designed the structure between 1239 and 1250.

The structure has a square plan with four corners of circular towers, which reflect the essential characteristics of Federiciana architecture. The fortress was built to be a defensive building within eastern Sicily but also to symbolize the Swabian imperial importance.

History of the building

The name “Ursino” derives from Castrum Sinus or the castle on the gulf, precisely because of its ancient strategic position close to the sea.

From the 16th century, the building became the residence of the Viceroys and a part of the complex was used as a prison until 1838.

The earthquake of 1693 caused damage to the fortress which compromised its military role. Subsequently, restoration projects were implemented that modified the original Swabian structure.

In the thirties of the twentieth century, changes and renovation works were made to the castle to transform it into a museum.

This civic museum is one of the most important in the city of Catania in terms of variety and extension, in fact inside we find archaeological finds from the Roman and Hellenistic periods, Greek vases and Greek and Roman coins, oils on canvas from the 19th century and other works by of great importance among these is the head of an Ephebe from the 6th century made of white marble.

The period in which the building served as a prison can be seen from the numerous graffiti on the walls and jambs found in the rooms on the ground floor. The languages used in the inscriptions are Sicilian and Latin.

This castle seems shrouded in mystery, there are many rumours of apparitions of ghosts, especially by those who work inside the building, furthermore inside, we can find a five-pointed star depicted on one of the windows, an esoteric symbol.

Ticket price

Total price: €10.00

Reduced price: €6.00 for young people up to 26 years of age, groups of at least 12 people, seniors over 65 and holders of activated agreements, €3.00 for schools

Free: for children under 6, disabled people and carers.

This monument of exceptional beauty hosts many travelling exhibitions of national and international importance.