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Palazzo Corvaja

The Arab domination lasted from the 9th to the 11th century in Sicily and, in Taormina in particular, they stayed from 902 to 1079 A.D. It was precisely in the eleventh century that the Arabs strengthened the town’s defences, building, among others, a tower which was none other than the main part of the actual Palazzo Corvaja.

A tower in the shape of a cube which reminded the Arabs of their sacred “Al Ka ‘bah’, and therefore, according to Mohammed, it was the first temple erected for God by Abraham of Mecca. The tower was enlarged at the end of the 13th century with the addition of the body of the building which is on the left after entering the entrance portal. With this new wing of the building, the access steps from the courtyard to the first floor were created. On the ground floor there are three splendid panels of Syracuse stone, sculpted in high-relief; the first representing the creation of Eva, the second the original sin and the third the chasing out of Paradise. The right wing of the Palazzo was created at the beginning of 1400 for Sicilian Parliament meetings, that were held there before 1411 in the great 4th century salon, in the presence of Queen Bianca of Navarra, reigning Sicily at that time.

It is for this reason that Palazzo Corvaja is also called the palace of parliament or of the queen, Bianca of Navarra. However, the palazzo takes its name from the name of the Corvaja family, one of the most ancient and noble in Taormina. A family from which came illustrious men who were literally involved in the administration of the town and also in the magistracy. Until the end of the second world war, in 1945, Palazzo Corvaja was in a pitiful state of total abandonment and various families had lived there. When liberation came, in 1945, the first mayor after the war expropriated the palazzo and during 1945 to 1948, the Naples architect, Armando Dillon, renovated the entire building.

In 1960, a new wing was built on which today houses the autonomous Tourist Information offices. Next to the Odeon, a short distance from the Agorà and the Zecca, close to the Naumachie entrance, and a stone’s throw from the Greek Roman Theatre, Palazzo Corvaja is certainly one of the obligatory points of reference for Taormina and its history. With regard to its architectonic style, it can certainly be affirmed that it is a mixture of styles considering the various eras in which it was built and added to. It begins with Arab style, then Gothic after having had Norman style additions.

The battlements of the tower are Arab, composed of a double series of square openings, surmounted by little merlons. The mullioned two-light windows of the 3rd century windows are Gothic. Mulllioned two-light windows that, in Gothic architecture, are divided by two columns to create three sections where light can enter. The 4th century salons are entirely Norman and the Sicilian Parliament meetings were held here.