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Castel del Monte


Castel del Monte, famous for its octagonal shape, is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.The Castle, which dates from the 13th century (the first document available to us for dating carries the year 1240), was built on the orders of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Swabia.Constructed directly on the bedrock, the Castle has a peculiar octagonal shape with eight towers, in the local limestone, standing one in each of its corners. Like the entire building, the courtyard (also octagonal) features distinctive colour contrasts achieved through the use of coral-coloured “breccia corallina”, limestone and various types of marble. At one time, it also contained fine sculptures and carvings; the only fragments to survive are a carved slab showing a procession of knights and a part of a human figure. The sixteen trapezoidal rooms, eight on each floor, have cross-vaulted ceilings with fascinating keystones decorated with human figures, animals and plants. Some towers contain cisterns used to collect rainwater, which also drained into a cistern underneath the central courtyard. Others contain the bathrooms, equipped with latrines and sinks.Although the majority of the carvings have been lost, what survives is an important pointer to the nature of the original decorations. Between the late 18th and early 19th century, local writers and historians describe rich decoration including mosaics, majolica tiles, pâte de verre and wall paintings. Today, we can still see two corbels carved in the form of human figures in the Falconer’s Tower, the telamones supporting the umbrella vault of one of the staircase towers and a fragment of floor mosaic in the 8th room on the ground floor. Two important carved fragments, of a head and a headless bust, are temporarily conserved in the Pinacoteca Provinciale in Bari.The debate over its intended use has never been resolved: the term castrum apparently refers to a defensive function, but the presence of various “ancillary” structures and the sophistication of the stonework and carvings give the impression more of a royal residence, or purposes of entertainment and display. Although today its location may appear remote, when built it stood only just off the main route between two important settlements, Andria and Garagnone (near Gravina). This position made the Castle an essential part of the communications network created by Frederick II.


località Castel del Monte
70031 Andria


1 April-30 September: Monday-Sunday 10.15-19.45; 1 October-31 March: Monday-Sunday 9.00-18.30

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