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December 12, 2007

Castle of Sant'Aniceto

Towers of the Castle of Sant'Aniceto.
Towers of the Castle of Sant'Aniceto.

The Castle of Sant'Aniceto (also San Niceto) is a Byzantine castle built in the early 11th century on a hill in Motta San Giovanni, now in the province of Reggio Calabria, southern Italy.

It is one of the few examples of High Middle Ages architecture in Calabria, as well as one of the few well-preserved Byzantine fortifications in the world. The name derives from that of St. Nicetas, a Byzantine admiral who lived in the 7th-8th centuries.

History

The castle was built as a refuge and a warning place during a period in which the ravages of Saracen pirates on the Calabrian and Sicilian coasts were frequent. When the Normans conquered southern Italy, the structure was enlarged, with the addition of rectangular towers.

In the 13th century the castle became he command center of the flourishing fief of Sant'Aniceto (which included Motta San Giovanni and Montebello). Two centuries later, entered in conflict with Reggio Calabria, and in 1459 it was destroyed by Alfonso of Calabria.

Architecture

The castles has an irregular plan, which reminds that of a ship with the bow directed towards the mountains and the aft to the sea.

Nest to the entrance are two square towers. At the feet of the short steep path leading to the plain below is a small church, which has a frescoed dome portraying the Christ Pantokrator, a typical subject of Byzantine Art.

The height of the well-preserved walls varies from 3 to 3.5 meters, and they are some one meters thick.

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