Built in Byzantine times to avoid Saracen raids, the Castle of Motta S. Aniceto is a fortress that protects the entire Calabrian territory. Located on a small mountain with steep slopes, it can also be reached on foot, by venturing into the Mediterranean scrub with its intense scent of prickly pear and aromatic herbs. Oaks and olive trees protect the castle and when you arrive, you can admire the unmistakable Aetna in the background beyond the Strait from atop the castle.
The Byzantine culture – a defence from the Saracens
A rare example of early medieval architecture in Calabria, the Castle, also called the San Niceto Castle, was for centuries a lookout and shelter for the Reggini during the Saracen incursions. It was built in the first half of the 11th century and has been recently renovated for its future preservation. You can access the walls, about 3.5 meters high, and view the imposing entrance door and two square towers. There are also ruins of a water cistern and other watchtowers. At the foot of the climb, there is the Church of the SS. Annunziata with the dome frescoed in traditional Byzantine style portraying Christ Pantocrator.
DID YOU KNOW THAT ...?
The castle of S. Aniceto is the only pre-Norman military complex in Calabria that is still almost intact. The irregular plan of the structure has the shape of a ship: the stern towards the sea and the bow towards the mountain.
From Sicily to Calabria, a boundless cult
St. Niceto (Nicetas) is the name that was given to the castle by the Sicilian refugees who were its founders. This is assumed because in the 11th century Sicily was particularly devoted to this saint, a Byzantine Admiral of the 7th-8th century.