Fort of Capo Passero
Technical Information

Fort of Capo Passero

Originally owned by the Crown of Spain, it was commissioned by the Deputation of the Kingdom, then chaired by the viceroy Marcantonio Colonna, in a meeting held in April 1583, to combat the Turkish-Barbary pirate activities, very violent at the time on the Capo Passero. The pirates, in fact, at the cape supplied themselves with water and plundered the area, sometimes taking the Europeans they encountered into slavery. Therefore, the engineer Giovanni Antonio del Nobile, a German, from 1572 "major engineer" on behalf of the Kingdom of Sicily, was commissioned to go to Capo Passero "to diligently recognize the towers and forts in need, for the uncovering of coves , correspondence of the signs and greater security of that part ". However, it was only in 1596 that the Deputation returned to deal with the matter, undertaking to “put into execution the long procured work of a designated fort in Capo Passero” and budgeting for an expense of 18.000 scudi. The construction site was actually only opened in 1599, under the direction of the royal engineer Diego Sánchez, but it was closed the following year, due to lack of funds. In July 1600, the Sicilian Parliament managed to collect 21.000 scudi from the lands of the kingdom, which it decided to offer to King Philip III of Spain to "fortify the Capo Passero". The construction site was therefore reopened in 1603 and completed in 1607, under the direction of the engineer Giulio Lasso. Lastly, the royal coat of arms, in sandstone, was placed above the entrance portal. A few days after the completion of the fort, Viceroy Juan Fernández Pacheco y Toledo arrived on 2 October 1607.

During the 1830th century, the fort was used as a prison for soldiers who had had problems with justice. It maintained its defensive function at least until XNUMX.[1]

By virtue of the Royal decree of 30 December 1866, the fort of Capo Passero, together with numerous other military buildings of the then Kingdom of Italy, ceased to be considered a fortification work.

In 1871, a small lighthouse was built on the terrace, the operation of which was ensured by personnel of the Italian Navy.

At the end of the fifties of the twentieth century the lighting system of the lighthouse was made automatic: it was thus that the guardian service was also terminated.[1]

The fort was restored between 2005 and 2007, as part of the Por Sicilia 2000-2006 funding


The fort is placed on the highest point of the island and rests on a massive portion of that limestone rock that characterizes the island. The perimeter is square, with sides of 35 meters. The base rises from the ground level for 4 meters and has no openings. The upper floor can only be reached via a flight of stairs, now L-shaped, but originally straight. The staircase, located on the east side, was interrupted a few meters from the entrance door, reachable via a drawbridge. Above the portal is the coat of arms of Frederick III of Spain. The external walls are made up of plastered limestone stones and sandstone blocks at the corners. Inside there is a courtyard, also square, of about 12 meters on each side. A system of gutters conveyed rainwater into a cistern, placed in the center of the courtyard.

On the ground floor there are fifteen rooms, with no openings to the outside, lit only by openings onto the internal courtyard. The corners correspond to square environments with vaults. The remaining rooms are rectangular, with barrel vault. There is a chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Annunciation, while the other rooms on this level represented the chaplain's and soldiers' quarters.[1] On the architrave placed at the entrance of one of the lodgings there is the following writing:

«Melius est envy urgeri quam commiseratione regrets. 1701. "

Upstairs there are sixteen rooms, also practically without openings to the outside, with the exception of eight small windows placed on the four sides of the fort, arranged without seeking symmetry. Compared to the distribution of the ground floor, the differences are slight. The rooms on the first floor housed the commander and officers, and are disengaged by a gallery supported by large shelves.

On the terrace was placed the artillery. On the northeast corner, starting in 1871, a small lighthouse stands, with a light range of 10,8 nautical miles.

Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Information contributions: Web, Region of Sicily 

Photo: Di Pequod76 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, 

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