Castellammare Castle, locally known as Castello a mare, lies in the city of Palermo, in the Palermo province on the island of Sicily in Italy.
Although the castle probably has 9th century arab-norman roots, it was first mentioned at the end of the 12th century as Castrum Maris. It was built on the seafront at the northern side of the entrance to 'La Cala'; the ancient port of Palermo.
In the 13th century the castle housed a garrison.
In the 15th century the castle was linked to the city walls. The present gate building was built in 1496, during the reign of Ferdinand II of Aragon.
In 1517, by order of Ettore Pignatelli, Viceroy of Sicily, Castellammare Castle became the seat of government until 1553 when the seat was transferred to the 'Palazzo dei Normanni', the Royal Palace of Palermo. In that same year the court of the Holy Inquisition was moved from the Royal Palace to Castellammare. The court remained almost continuously in the castle until 1601, when it was transferred to Steri.
During the first half of the 16th century the castle was also strengthened with fortified bastions incorporating older structures. In 1593 Castellammare Castle was severely damaged by an exploding gunpowder magazine.
In 1860, after the capitulation of the Bourbon army, several structures in the castle were demolished, although it kept being used as barracks for the Royal Italian army.
Between 1922 and 1924, despite numerous protests, Castellammare Castle was demolished using dynamite, to allow expansion of port facilities and construction of a pier. Only a tower, a chapel entrance and the gate building were saved. During WW II the site suffered more destruction as a result of Allied bombings; parts of the tower had been destroyed and the chapel entrance was inexplicably dismantled when the rubble was cleared. All that remained were a part of a tower, the gate building and 2 bastions.
At present Castellammare Castle is located in an industrial part of the city's port. It is the focal point of an archeological park which opened in 2009. However, when I visited during high season the park was closed and it looked as if it had been already closed for a long time. Too bad.