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San Giacomo

The Castle of San Giacomo – Brief History

The castle of San Giacomo was completely rebuilt by King Roger I D’Altavilla. Some archaeologists who had analyzed a plaque placed in the curtain wall, which is now missing, confirmed the castle dated 1070-1101. The building, which includes a little church, was built on the ruins of a Norman complex owned by Andrea Rizzo in the early 15th century, during the Aragon domination, in order to prevent Turkish attacks by sea.
In the 17th century, during the Bourbons rule, the castle was used as a prison for rebels and political criminals. Unfortunately, the fort was too small to contain a large number of prisoners, so it was decided to dig under the tower to create space for new cells. These new rooms carved out from the tuff were dark and particularly damp. Later, efforts had been made to grant the prisoners airy and hygienic dormitories with some skylight.

The castle of San Giacomo today

Nowadays, the castle has a new curtain wall and a deep ditch of 10 meters. It has been well preserved also if it is situated inside the prison so visitors cannot have access. In fact, for access to the castle you have to enter by the main door of the prison, while the back door is reserved for the families of the prisoners.
Nevertheless, the public administration is working hard to build a new prison in order to demolish the wall that “prisons” the castle.