Castello Ursino, Catania
Castello Ursino is sturdy building made of lava stone. Built in 1239 by Riccardo da Lentini, this defensive fortification from the Hohenstaufen period shows its close affinity with the castles of Frederick II in Syracuse and Augusta. The ground-plan consists of four wings around an inner courtyard. The four wings form a square with four towers at the corners and four smaller towers halfway along each side. Decorative elements are sparse; on the entrance side to the north can be seen an eagle seizing a hare; this dates from the Hohenstaufen period.The castle in Catania originally stood right by the harbor. The great stream of lava of 1669, however, flowed past its west side (it can still be seen there) and pushed the coastline eastwards, with the result that the castle today occupies a spacious site in the middle of a residential area.
Castello Ursino Map
Address: Piazza Federico di Svevia, I-95121 Catania, Italy
Opening hours: 8:30am-1pm; Sun: 9am-12:30pm
Entrance fee: FREE
The Castello Ursino in Catania houses the Museo Civico (city museum) with finds and collections from the surrounding area. Among the exhibits are many Hellenistic and Roman sculptures, including the torso of a Roman emperor, an Attic ephebe's head (fifth century B.C.), a Hellenistic relief portrayal of Polyphemus being blinded by Odysseus; in addition items of porcelain, fragments of mosaics and inscriptions, a valuable collection of weapons; sculptures from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and the 18th century; on the upper story there is a collection of paintings with works from the 16th to 18th centuries (including Pietro Novelli, Antonello da Saliba, Mattia Preti) as well as smaller antiquities (bronze statues, ceramics and terracotta); in other rooms paintings of the 19th and 20th century Sicilian school are displayed.
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