According to tradition, the Sea Castle, commonly known as ‘Colombaia’ (Dovecote), was built by Hamilcar Barca on a small island at the eastern end of the harbour, at the time of the First Punic War.
Also known as Peliad Tower, the name Colombaia derives from the islet named Peliàdes from Geeek peleia, dove (specifically rock dove – Columba livia).
Following the Roman conquest, the tower was abandoned and became a nesting place for doves. In the Aragonese period it was rebuilt into its current octagonal form with a ribbed umbrella vault: remodelled and renovated in the following centuries, after the riots of 1821 it was turned into a prison by the Bourbons and until 1860 housed the captive Sicilian patriots of the Risorgimento.
Unused since 1965, the year of the opening of the new prison, in 2009 it became part of the Italian National Trust (FAI) as a ‘Place of the heart of the Italians’, and in 2010 it passed from being State property to that of the Sicilian Region, which announced its restoration.