Cefala Diana, Sicily with its Arab baths and castle

Photo of Cefala Diana

Visit Cefala Diana

A relatively 'new arrival' on the tourist scene, the town of Cefala Diana is in the Palermo region of north-west Sicily.

Apart from the general attractions of the region and the countrsyide around Cefala Diana there are two main historical attractions that attract visitors here: the Arab Baths and the castle.

The original castle at Cefala, which dates back to the early 12th century, is no longer in existence - excavations have shown that the original town and castle were on Mount Chiarastella a few hundred metres away from the current town and castle - which caused some confusion for early historians studying the history of Cefala Diana! The original village was abandoned during the 13th century and relocated to its current position, perhaps as part of the struggle between local families to control important access routes. Numerous castles were built in the region by the warring factions, in positions depending on how easily they could be defended and how well they could control important access routes, particularly in the decades after 1250 and the death of Frederick of Swabia.

Visit Cefala Diana castle: Triangular in shape, the castle is built on a rocky outcrop in a naturally defensible position, and had two large cisterns to allow rainwater to be stored. The walls of the castle are thickest to the west side, where it was more exposed to threats of attack (there is no longer a great deal of the walls still standing). The tower of the castle served the dual purpose of providing additional defense in the event of an attack, and also allowing the road between Agrigento and Palermo to be surveilled.

The remaining part of the castle has been restored and is now open to visitors.

Visit the Arab Baths: note that the Arab baths, which fall within the Natural Reserve of Cefala Diana, are now believed to date from the 13-14th centuries, not the earlier Arab period, although there is still uncertainty about their origins - and they are built faithfully in an Arab style, which also confused local historians (an Arabic inscription in the baths did little to help their confusion...)

The Cefala Diana 'Arab Baths' building is rectangular, and originally had five arched openings, although two of these were subsequently converted into windows. The two rooms inside the Arab baths are separated by Tuscan columns that support the arches (of red brick), with light entering the baths by way of round holes - which also allowed for the water vapour to leave the baths.

See also:

Map of Cefala Diana & places nearby

Selected places to visit in or near Cefala Diana, Sardinia