Pentefur Castle

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Pentefur Castle is located on one of the two hills on which the ancient town of Savoca stands. Over the centuries it has played an important role in the defense of the eastern coast of Sicily. In fact, orders and instructions for all the other forts and watchtowers on this Sicilian coast were issued from here. The remains of the castle, restored after more than three hundred years, can be visited during the year on some special occasions.

The history of Pentefur Castle

The original nucleus of Pentefur Castle was probably built on a pre-existing fortification from the late Roman or Byzantine period. Around 1070, the Normans extensively renovated the building to make it the summer residence of the Archimandrite of Messina. This was the head of a series of Basilian monasteries in the Messina area, the main one being the Monastery of the Holy Savior of Messina. In 1355 the castle of Pentefur became the property of the King of Sicily and acquired great importance. In 1396, however, it was returned to the Archimandrites of Messina, who were responsible for its restoration and enlargement. From 1780 the castle began to be abandoned and suffered several collapses also due to the three different earthquakes that struck Savoca in the previous centuries. Since 1885 the ownership of the Castle of Pentefur has passed to the Nicòtina family, which has carried out some restoration works in order to allow the public to enjoy the remains of the building.

Pentefur Castle: The origin of the name

The origin of the name of Savoca’s Pentefur Castle is still a mystery. According to an ancient legend, the Pentefurs were five mysterious thieves who escaped from Taormina prison and founded the castle as a hideout for their raids. Another interpretation considers the term Pentefur as a combination of two Greek words: “pente”, meaning five, and “fulè”, meaning neighborhood.  It seems that the ancient settlement of Savoca was divided into five neighborhoods during the Byzantine period. According to another interpretation, Pentafur would be the ancient name of the fortress where the castle stands today.

The architecture of the castle

Of the original castle of Pentefur, only the remains of the walls and cisterns are visible today. The building stands on one of the two hills on which the ancient town of Savoca stands, in a position that dominates the entire valley. On the highest part of the plateau, in an area of about 350 square meters, the remains of the former castle can be seen. The walls of the outermost enclosure are made of stones combined with fragments of earthenware, held together with abundant lime mortar. The plan of the castle is irregular and has a very large interior.

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