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Percorsi Informativi sulle Saline di Trapani e sulla Colombaia - Saline di Trapani e Paceco - Home Page


Castello della Colombaia

Information paths about the salt-pans and the castle of the "Dovecot"
The Administrative Office of Trapani has decided to realize two information paths in the former lazaret, as a section of the development program concerning a tourist pole for promoting the culture of the environmental and historical artistic heritage of the territory.

The Dovecot : historical notes
The archaeologists think that the birth of Trapani took place during the punic period, around the natural port that worked as a basis for the Carthaginians.
At the entrance of the harbour there is an isle that is considered very important both for civil and military reasons because of its position.
The building of the first fortification, called "peliade" is attributed to the Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca and dates back to the first punic war (264-241), then it fell down under the Roman siege. Numerius Fabius consul conquered "Peliade" in one night destroying the Carthaginian garnison.
We know little about the site, we can only think that it was used by all the "characters" of the historical scene as : tank of raining water for the ships, arsenal, guard station, lighthouse and signalling tower.
The name of "Dovecot" comes from the fact that the doves were often used as "air postmen"; they also say that in Spring the doves flew towards Erice where the temple of Venus was located.
Many historians have written about it : Thucydid, Plinius, Virgilius, Diodore of Sicily, etc (the list would be too long). Carthaginians, Phenicians, Troyans, Romans, Berberians, Byzantines, Spanish and French lived there.

The Dovecot : architecture
The castle has an irregular planimetry and all the establishment includes three architectonical elements : a pointed bastion, an octagonal tower and an almost elliptic shaped fortress. Part of it is made of ashlars in calcareous stone ; on the eastern side there is a wide bank that covers the tank which the historical notes report. One exterior great staircase leads inside where there is a balcony from which start passages and stairs that connect rooms and internal courts.
Barrel vaults cover most rooms on the first and the second level.The intermediate floors of the octagonal tower (37,50 m high) have wooden beams on which some wooden listels rest, covered by cut tuff. A precious ribbed star vault covers the last level of the tower.
The present architecture is the result of the various interventions that have changed it during the centuries.

Natural Reserve "saltpans of Trapani and Paceco"
Between half 19th century and first half of 20th century many humid areas are drained for sanitary reasons and for the increasing demand of lands to be used for agricultural activities.
Nowadays the saltpans are an enchanting scenery but they are also one of the most important reserves in Sicily where migrators, that flow towards Africa in Autumn and come back in Spring, can rest.
208 species have been recensed, among them : spoonbills, flamingos, egrets, shelddrakes, avocets, stilt-birds. There are also thousands of ducks.
Besides the birds, the reserve houses many amphibians and reptiles as well as different types of plants, wide espanses of salt-worts and beautiful halophytes. We can see all that by going through paths that wind along white salt heaps and water basins, coloured by the sky and the salt.
The saltpans were probably established by the Phenicians, but we are sure that, thanks to a public Act dated 1346, they were given by the king Alphonse and Ferdinand of Aragon as a prize to those who had done their utmost during the bubonic plague.
The reserve spreads along 950 hectares, it was established in 1995 by the Sicilian Region that entrusted WWF Italy with it.