Historical Background of Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte translated as Castle of the Mount in English language is a 13th century castle which is situated in the Apulia region of southeast Italy and it was the largest of the castles built by the Roman Emperor Frederick II sometime between 1240 and 1250, the year of Frederick's death. The castle served as a theatre where Frederick's natural daughter, Violante's wedding was celebrated in 1249 and used by Manfredi to imprison rebel subjects in 1256. After Manfredi's death and the Swabia's defeat in Benevento in 1266, Manfredi's sons were locked in the castle by Charles I of Angio after which the building remained in Del Balzo's possession until the end of the XV century. The castle housed Ferdinand of Aragon in 1495 before he was crowned as the king of the two Sicillies in Barletta and in 1552, it belonged to the Carafas, Counts of Ruvo and Dukes of Andria before the epidemic that struck the city in 1656 during which many representatives of nobility took refuge in the castle after which it turned into a refuge for bandits and shepherds until 1876 when the castle was bought by the State and became listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site in the 19th century.
Architectural Description of Castel del Monte
Not only does the Castel del Monte seem to have been designed by Frederick II himself, it was constructed by local forces, Saracen, Nordic chisel experts and craftsmen. The castle's lack of a moat and drawbridge and general defence works points out that it may never have being built to be a defensive structure and so it remains a solemn building and a great example of symmetry in medieval building with its perfect and geometric design. The castle is an octagonal prism with octagonal towers which were originally about 5m higher than they are now each at its corner. The castle sits on a hill about 540 meters high near the monastery of Santa Monte and it has its exterior designed with a special kind of limestone with quartz which resembles marble from a distance. The Castel del Monte features blends of different cultures and architectural knowledge from various parts of the world as evident in the complex oriental-inspired hydraulic systems of the bathroom facilities. On the building's two floors which are connected by stairs placed in the towers, are eight rooms each with vaulted ceilings and an eight-sided courtyard which occupies the center of the castle. The castle has two entrances, an unobtrusive service entrance and a stylish main entrance that reflected classical design elements in Roman, Arab, Norman and Gothic styles.
Tourist Information on Castel del Monte
The Castel del Monte which is 18 kilometers far from Andria is accessible through the S.S. 170 road from Andria by car. You can reach Andria from Bari by train, with the regional railway called the Ferrovie Nord Barese(Bari-Barletta Line). The trip to Andria takes an hour and your ticket needs to be validated in a machine before boarding.