An important monument from the Suevian period, the Castello Maniace is one of the most beautiful Frederician castles. Its original use is unknown: according to some scholars it was a “palatium”, the sovereign’s royal residence; according to others, the castle had a defensive role, and was therefore a “castrum”.
Under the Angevins, Castello Maniace became a royal property; while during the Aragonese period the city of Syracuse became the seat of the Camera Reginale, an institution that placed the city as the queen’s dowry. From 1305 to 1536, the castle was home to numerous queens: Constance, Queen of Sicily in 1362; Maria, Queen of Sicily in 1399; Blanche I of Navarre in 1416; and, finally, Germaine of Foix, the second wife of Ferdinand II of Aragon. For almost the entire 15th century the Castle was used as a prison. At the end of the 16th century, in the general plan to fortify the city, Castello Maniace became a strategic point of the city walls designed by the Spanish military engineer Antonio Ferramolino. On 5 November 1704, an explosion in the armoury destroyed the building.
In the following years a reconstruction was carried out, which, leaving the parts damaged by the explosion unaltered, involved the enlargement of the courtyard and the construction of some warehouses.