THE SICILIAN DEFENSIVE SYSTEM: THE COASTAL TOWERS. THEORY AND TECHNIC MEET IN UNIQUE LANDMARKS

Risultato della ricerca: Conference contribution

Abstract

Sicily has historically experienced a massive colonial occupation due to its strategic position among the Mediterranean Sea. Still today, its tactical importance is under everybody’s eyes with at least 15 NATO’s headquarters. Thus, it’s easily understandable how defending such a large territory was particularly important which, in turn, meant guarding and protecting more than 1600 km of coasts, leading to a possible supremacy on the trading routes through the Mediterranean area.This work will analyse the Sicilian coastal towers, a real typology that exploited traditional construction technologies and local materials integrated by instances of military engineering, in a continuous relationship between international theories and local practice. The Sicilian defensive coastal system is made of tens of towers arranged to create a closed circuit able to spot and communicate, in a very fast way, the presence of possible enemies approaching the territory from the sea. The first towers were built during the early-XIV century and their construction was intensified due to the North African corsairs’ raids and later, between the XVI-XVII centuries, for the fights for supremacy among the Ottoman and the Spanish Empires, to continue during the XIX century with the revolution of the military technics and the risk of Napoleonic troops invasion.During centuries, many military engineers worked to improve the islander defensive system: towers perfectly reflect the evolution of the military technologies (i.e. transition to fire gun) helped by the development of studies and the spread of dedicated treatises and manuals. Defensive towers were built in a solid way, respecting some precise principles in order to make them robust to attacks, self-sufficient to host a permanent guard, dominant to have the best view. Furthermore, they were perfectly integrated in the surrounding environment and generally located in particularly scenic positions.Nowadays 218 towers still survive and no one is used for military purposes. Many are in a terrible state of ruin, some were incorporated in other structures, some were fully restored and are well preserved. Preservation of coastal towers is fundamental for the cultural identity of Sicily along with representing an important landmark strongly linked with the history of supremacy over the Mediterranean Area in an international panorama where the evolution of military disciplines strongly influenced the local constructive technologies and building typologies. Finally, their reuse may be strategically important for a compatible touristic exploitation.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteARCHTHEO '16 - X. INTERNATIONAL THEORY OF ARCHITECTURE CONFERENCE
Pagine393-407
Numero di pagine15
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016

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