Sicilia, Catania


Catania, Castello Ursino

Il nome deriva da “Castrum sinus”, ossia “castello del golfo” poiché in origine era a picco sul mare ma la colata di lava dell’eruzione dell’Etna del 1669 lo allontanò dalla costa di qualche centinaio di metri. Il Castello Ursino dall’aspetto severo e massiccio fu costruito su un altopiano circondato dal mare tra il 1239 e il 1250 dall’architetto Riccardo da Lentini per volere di Federico II di Svevia. L’imperatore amava le figure geometriche. Ne è un esempio la struttura a pianta quadrata del castello delimitata da quattro torrioni a struttura circolare del diametro di 10 metri posti ad ogni angolo e da torri semicilindriche situate a metà di ciascun lato. L’ingresso si apre ad arco acuto sul prospetto, sovrastato dallo stemma degli Svevi, un’aquila che artiglia una lepre. All’interno si ammirano opere di notevole interesse artistico. Tra queste, le strutture portanti delle varie sale ornate da eleganti volte a costoloni, da pregiati capitelli intarsiati e da grandi archi ogivali. Di ottima fattura sono le statue: Afrodite di stampo ellenistico, il Torso di Eracles risalente al quarto secolo a.C., e i Gladiatori, rilievo romano su lava. Il castello fu residenza dei reali Aragonesi nel XIV sec. Verso la metà del Settecento venne circondato da imponenti mura a scopo difensivo e, in seguito, modificato nella parte meridionale secondo l’impronta rinascimentale. Nel 1837 fu trasformato in prigione. Oggi, restaurato ed illuminato in modo suggestivo, è sede del Museo civico e la sua pinacoteca ospita mostre d’arte.

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