Ursino castle, symbol of Catania, was built between 1239 and 1250 as one of the royal castles of Emperor Frederick II, King of Sicily, closing a chapter on the turbulent time in Sicily that followed the death of his predessor, William II. It was designed by the military architect Riccardo da Lentini and the project was based on the defensive model similar to the Castle of Maniace in Syracuse, considered impregnable at the time.
The name “Ursino” comes from “Castrum Sinus” which means “Castle of the Gulf”
Ursino Castle played a very important role in the history of Catania, for example in the Sicilian Vespers, when it became the seat of the Sicilian Parliament which declared fallen king James II and elected Frederick III king of Sicily or the alliance of peace between Giovanni Di Randazzo e Giovanna D’Angiò in 1347.In 1434, Alfonso il Magnanimo, signed the act of constitution of the University of Catania there and then the Castle was used as prison till 1838.
In 20th century it became City Museum.