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Al Jafar, part of our historical Leopard Collection

THE HISTORY OF AL JAFAR

Al Jafar and its surrounding agricultural estate has a long and distinguished history that dates back over 1,000 years. Originally named Misiligiafari, the property was a fief of Emir Giafar (989-1035), a patron of the arts and sciences who historians have dubbed the Lorenzo the Magnificent of the Arabic Renaissance in Sicily.

The property has been in the family of the present owners since 1335 when a Royal Knight, Lancelot, acquired the estate and began transforming the existing Arabic structure into a fortified residence. The last descendent of the family to live there permanently was Enrico "the Lion" (as Garibaldi nicknamed him), also known in historical circles also as the Hero of Three Worlds thanks to his participation in the Crimean War, the American Civil War (on the side of the Union) and the Risorgimento in Italy.

Enrico's daughter, Maria Teresa, founded a religious order, the Povere Figlie di Maria SS Incoronata (the Poor Daughters of the Incoronation of the Virgin Maria), and transformed the castle into an orphanage for abandoned children.

Al Jafar's enchanting sunken garden, meanwhile, was originally a quarry, whose dense tuff stone was used in the construction of many of Trapani's magnificent baroque churches and palazzi. Today, it is an utterly private sanctuary with a glorious pool and a microclimate that provides the ideal conditions for a flourishing and fragrant array of flowering plants, fruit trees and other Mediterranean flora.

The current owners restored the castle in 1990, maintaining the original structure and ensuring that each stone, parapet and crenellation lives on to tell its story. In 2014, the Sicilian Regional Department of Cultural and Environmental Heritage listed Al Jafar as a "building of historical, artistic and architectural importance".

Like any castle worth visiting, Al Jafar has its own supernatural legend complete with ghost. It is, so the legend would have it, home to a magic, hidden treasure that can only be found by completing a series of tasks. First it is necessary to pluck a pomegranate from one of the trees in the garden and take it to the stables just as the clocks strike midnight. There, after cutting open the pomegranate, every single seed must be counted. If you achieve this task successfully, a Saracen ghost appear and lead you to the treasure.

There is, however, one other catch....first you have to book Al Jafar!

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