A Trace of Medieval Italy at Castel del Monte

A blend of Gothic and Islamic architecture, the Castel del Monte is a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage in Apulia, Italy.

Image by franco.a

Castel del Monte is a fine example of a well-kept Medieval fortess castle at the confluence of Byzantine, Arabic and western European influences. Built in 1240, it is one of the most imposing structures of its kind in all of Italy. The castle is located on the top of a 540 m high hill, near the small city of Andria.

Image by Miky Jpeg

Castel del Monte was built under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and there’s speculation that it was never actually intended as a fortress. At that time, the location was not strategically important and the structure was not equipped with a moat or a drawbridge. Frederick II used it as a hunting lodge for only ten years, until he died. Castel del Monte was afterwards a prison and a refuge during the plague and in the end it was abandoned. Experts agree that this construction is the result of a wonderful vision by a forward-thinking king impassioned by Islam, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy and poetry.

Image by tuttotorvo

The number 8 is a feature that defines the design of Castel del Monte. The structure has an octagonal layout, 8 towers and an octagonal-shaped interior courtyard. The walls were once covered with marble and the floor in one room was once covered in mosaics. Another Arabic influence in designing this marvellous piece of architecture is the large number of bathrooms.

Image by e://Dantes

The castle has 25 m-high walls and each of the bastions measure 26 m. Castel del Monte has a diameter of 56 m and its main entrance is oriented to the East. This, along with the other Arabic influences in the castle might represent a symbol of reconciliation between the Christians and the Muslims, at that time. Historians have still not discovered the true meaning of this castle, but its cultural significance is indisputable.

Image by vic15

Castel del Monte is a mere 75 km from the superb city of Bari. As a result, hotels in Bari make a convenient base from which to explore the myriad gems Apulia has to offer.

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  1. A Trace of Medieval Italy at Castel del Monte

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