Lipari Castle, “fused” with the lava

Lipari Castle is almost “fused” with the majestic lava dome on top of which it is built and through which it juts out into the sea, rising to a height of around fifty metres.

Lipari Castle
Photo of the Castle of Lipari from the sea, which takes up the entire photo. The lower part of the castle is made up of a gray lava with vertical but very massive fractures. It is entirely covered by the Norman walls of the castle. Behind the walls there are very green and tall trees, as well as two yellow buildings with sloping roofs belonging to the Archaeological Museum of Lipari.

This volcanic dome was formed less than 20,000 years ago, in the middle of a large bay on the east coast of Lipari, between the two current inlets of Marina Lunga to the north and Marina Corta to the south. The fortress is surrounded by high inaccessible vertical crags that are flat on top. Thanks to its structure, it has always been a natural fortress, offering a safe place from enemy raids since ancient times.
The archaeological excavations conducted by Luigi Bernabò Brea and Madeleine Cavalier after 1950 brought to light a continuous sequence of levels that in the southern part reaches a thickness of 9 metres. This sequence is one of the most complete in the Mediterranean and covers a period ranging from prehistoric to late Roman times.
The Castle’s current appearance derives from the mighty Spanish fortifications built by Charles V in 1560. The walls, which covered the rock up to the base, were equipped at various points with artillery stations and embrasures, now closed off by walls. On the north side the Spanish walls have incorporated the Norman towers dating back to the 12th century, including a tower-door that was the ancient entrance from the hill of the Civita (now Piazza Mazzini) to the Castle. Even today, this is still the main entrance to the fortress. At this point, in addition to the Spanish and Norman fortifications, it is possible to see a Greek-age tower from the 4th century BC, built with square blocks of reddish Monte Rosa stone (an ancient eruptive centre located just north of the town of Lipari), arranged in 23 rows high.

The entrance road to the Castle passes under a corridor with a barrel vault, where there is a machicolation (floor opening) for the iron portcullis that could be lowered to block passage. Beyond this opening there would have been a second door closed by a wooden bar. The road then continues outdoors, along the Spanish wall with embrasures, then under a ceiling with ogival arches, built in 1800. Finally, the concourse of the fortress is accessed through the 15th-century Spanish door, above which is painted a coat of arms with an eagle symbol of the Bourbon family.
The Castle was the seat of the city until the 18th century. Few remains of the houses are visible. The churches, five in total, have instead been preserved: the church of Santa Caterina at the entrance dates back to the late 17th-18th century, used as a kitchen in the Fascist period; the Addolorata from the first half of the 16th century and the Immacolata, from the first half of the 18th century; a little further on is the Cathedral, and finally the church of Madonna delle Grazie, from the 17th century, in the area of the archaeological park.
Inside the castle walls you can also visit the marvellous Archaeological Museum “Luigi Bernabò Brea”.

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