The Saracen Castle (Castello Saraceno) of Taormina is located at an altitude of almost 400 metres on a rock of Monte Tauro. To get to the castle, one has to climb from the Madonna della Rocca church up a staircase cut into the rock.
Castello Saraceno Taormina
Address, opening times and ticket price
Address: Via Rocca, Monte Tauro – Taormina. The castle can only be viewed from outside.
History and description
The castle of Taormina was built on this specific site, because it was easy to control the valley of the Alcantara River from here.
In Greek and Roman times, the lower Tauromenion Acropolis stood on this spot. There was a higher version further to the north, near the present-day Castelmola.
Tradition has it that the castle was built by Arabs. In reality, it is not known who the builders were or when this happened.
However, it would seem likely that, in 1079, during the siege by the Normans, the Arabs had a stronghold on the rock.
Count Ruggero’s response was to have twenty wooden towers built around the town and the rock. This forced the Saracens to abandon their defense of the rock after a few months.
During the reign of Frederick II, the castle was entrusted to a Spanish nobleman.
The castle gate was guarded by sentries posted on the wall.
The outer walls of the castle are well preserved, while the inner ones have almost all collapsed. These outer walls are about four meters high.
The rooms where rainwater was collected and stored are still recognizable, as well as the underground part, where supplies and ammunition were kept.