Castel del Monte - the most beautiful castle in Apulia (Italy)
Location show on map
SS 170 Andria, Barletta-Andria-Trani, Italy
Date of build
Castel del Monte is a medieval castle located near the town of Andria, in the Apulia region of southern Italy, on top of a hill 540 metres high.
The castle was built by Frederick II Hohenstauf in 1240. It is located on a hill where there was another fortress, of which no trace has survived to our times. The surrounding area is quite flat, making Castel del Monte visible from several kilometers away.
The purpose for which Castel del Monte was built is unknown. However, it is known that the castle was not built for military purposes, as it did not have any typical medieval defensive elements such as walls or a moat.
The castle was originally used by the royal family as a hunting lodge. Sometime after the death of Frederick II (1250) Castel del Monte was converted into a prison.
The plans for Castel del Monte were probably modeled on the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem, where Frederick II ended up during the Fifth Crusade. The exterior of the building has a tower at each corner. The main entrance once secured by an iron gate was located on the eastern side of the Castel del Monte. The castle's only protection was its 2.5 metre thick walls.
Castel del Monte is shaped like a regular octagon with sides 16.5 metres long. Its walls have a height of 25 metres. The castle has an inner courtyard.
In addition to the inner courtyard we can distinguish: 8 towers on the tops of the octagon, each 26 meters high, 8 passable halls on each of the 2 floors of the building and 8 large windows on each floor.
Friedrich II Hohenstauf (King of Sicily, Roman Emperor and King of Jerusalem), never visited Castel del Monte. The castle was a prison for three of his grandsons for 30 years.
In 1665, during an epidemic, it sheltered the wealthiest residents of Andri. Over the years, the castle fell into disrepair until it became state property in 1876. The castle used to be decorated with marble walls and columns, but unfortunately they were stolen over the years. Over the years, many of the decorations inside this castle have been lost or transferred to other museums, such as the "Pinacoteca Provinciale di Bari".
In Castel del Monte you can see elements of several different architectural styles, such as Roman, Gothic, Norman and Arabic. These styles were mixed in perfect harmony in the construction of the castle. By many scholars and locals the castle is considered a sacred and mysterious monument, by others it is considered a symbol of imperial power, due to its fact it stands out against the surrounding natural hills of Puglia.
The image of Castel del Monte was placed on the Italian 1 euro-cent coin.
There has been much controversy over the years about this remarkable structure, and many theories have arisen as to why it was built. One such theory is that the structure was the site where a UFO landed.
There has been a lot of controversy over the years about the purpose of the building.
In 1996, the exemplary design, perfect harmony of shape and combination of northern European, Islamic and classical stylistic features were recognized by UNESCO and the castle was inscribed on the World Heritage List.
It is the thirteenth most visited Italian attraction with more than 206,000 visitors a year and a total annual income of more than 518,000 euros.
"Castel del Monte is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from Northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. It is a unique masterpiece of medieval military architecture reflecting the humanism of its founder: Frederick II of Hoenstaufen" - UNESCO Committee's presentation words