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CASTLES IN THE PROVINCE OF PALERMO
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:: Castelbuono castle

The construction of this castle began in 1316, by order of Count Francesco I of Ventimiglia, over the ruins of the ancient Byzantine town of Ypsigro, high on the San Pietro hill. Hence its original name, "Castello del buon aere" ("Castle of good air"), from which the name Castelbuono is derived - literally meaning "good castle". Numerous drastic alterations were made in the 17th cent. for reasons of accommodation, when a number of Ventimiglia families moved here from Palermo - the castle never served any really strategic purpose, owing to its geographic position down valley.

The construction presents Arab-Norman and Swabian features: the cube shape recalls Arabic architecture; the square towers, although incorporated into those of the façade, reflect Norman architectural style, as also the battlements; and the round tower recalls aspects of Swabian architecture.

The structure is on three floors, the first floor for the servants, with the essential services, the second for the nobility, with the sumptuous Cappella Palatina, and the third for the court and for guests. The Cappella Palatina ("Palace Chapel") was built in 1683 by the brothers Giuseppe and Giacomo Serpotta, with a great profusion of precious marble, stuccowork, putti, and friezes that commemorate the most resplendent moments in the history of the House of Chiaramonte.

Here is kept the holy relic of the skull of St Ann, in an urn that acts as the pedestal to the sculpted bust of Castelbuono's patron saint. There are also the traditional underground dungeons and a tunnel that leads to the Church of San Francesco.

Details of the Castelbuono Castle

   
   
 
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