The village of Acaya lies a few miles from Lecce, near Vernole. In ancient times it was called Segine and was surrounded by massive walls and a wide moat. Acaya Castle, considered one of the finest examples of Renaissance-era defensive architecture in the Terra d’Otranto (Land of Otranto), guards the small hamlet, preserving centuries of history.
The fortified hamlet was originally conceived as a model ideal city, designed to allow for the architectural security of the village and the industriousness of its inhabitants. For some time now, the Municipality of Vernole and the Province of Lecce have been spearheading a major restoration project in Acaya aimed at preserving its historical, artistic and cultural heritage.
The Castle was built by the Knight Alfonso of Acaya in around 1506. In the following years, his son Gian Giacomo dell'Acaya, a famous architect, rebuilt the entire complex, transforming it into a fortified hamlet and making it the main centre of his estate. He also renamed it Acaya. After his death in 1570, the hamlet was sold and Acaya began to decline slowly, until its rebirth in the 20th century.
The Castle, which has a trapezoidal base, is accessible through a single bridge. The fortified walls are reinforced by two cylindrical towers. A stairway leads up to the rooms on the upper floor, including the bastion hall, with its painting of the Spanish Kings' coats of arms, and a room decorated with classically-styled motifs carved in Lecce stone.
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