Castello di Sperlinga

Useful Information

Location: Sperlinga, Centro Urbano, Via Castello 1. Motorway Catania-Palermo, exit Leonforte, Nicosia. On SS120 through Gangi and Nicosia.
Open: All year daily 9:30-13:30, 15:30-18:30.
Fee: Adults EUR 2, Children (6-18) EUR 1, Children (0-5) free, Seniors (65+) EUR 1.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Castle
Light: n/a
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Liborio Bellone, Carlo Bellone, Paolo Totò Bellone, Antonino Bonomo, Simone Guglielmo, Salvatore Scalisi (2008): Sperlinga, città antica di Sicilia, (Sperlinga, Ancient Sicilian city), Novagraf 2008.
Address: Castello di Sperlinga, Simon Guglielmo Tel: +39-338-3535480, Fax: +39-0, E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1082 Sperlinga Castle built.
1132 written mention of the owner Russo Rosso.


The Castello di Sperlinga (Castle of Sperlinga) was built on an impressive rock. The outcrop has a massive cliff face to the southwest, which looks almost like the bow of a ship. The limestone of the Nebrodi Mountains is riddled with some 50 caves. The name Sperlinga is derived from the Latin word spelunca, which means cave. There are also numerous natural caves in the limestone of the castle rock. During the Middle Ages those caves were enlarged and integrated into the castle and its fortifications. As a result they have now straight walls and it is hard to determine how much of them was natural.

The castle is entered at the foot of the cliff in the middle of the town. From here staircases lead up, level above level of the fortification. Some of the staircases were cut into the rock. In the middle is a horizotal band where most of the caves are located. The square rooms are open to one side, but this side was once closed by walls. They had huge storage rooms, a system of cisterns, and the lower caves were used as barns. So the castle was able to survive long sieges.

The castle was erected under the Normans, in use under the Swabians, but it became important under French occupation. In 1597 the baron di San Bartolomeo di Belice rebuilt the whole castle. And it was rebuilt and enlarged various times since then.

The castle became rather famous in 1282. In this year the Vespro Siciliano (Sicilian Vespers) happened, an uprise against the rule of the French/Angevin King Charles I. It was the beginning of the War of the Sicilian Vespers, and the Castello di Sperlinga was an important Angevin stronghold. The Angevin soldiers were besieged for 13 months by the Aragonese. A remains of this time is the inscription Quod Siculis Placuit Sola Sperlinga Negavit (all that pleased the Sicilians only Sperlinga denied). Untiltoday the inhabtants of Sperling have their own language, which is called Galloitalico. It is strongly influenced by the ancient Occitan and Piemontese languages.