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Visit Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte is an unusual castle with an octaganol shape and towers at each point of the octagon. It is located in the Puglia region in the 'heel' of Italy.
Explore the Castel del Monte
The Castel del Monte was built by the Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century. It is one of many castles built by Frederick in the region but is considered to be one of his finest.
The castle is built on a rocky peak and has a perfectly octagonal shape with eight octagonal towers standing at each point of the octagon. Its location, symmetry and the astranomical and mathematical precision along with the blending of Islamic, Gothic and Classical styles has earned it UNESCO World Heritage Status.
Why Frederick built the castle is something of a mystery as there is no port or town nearby to defend. Frederick II was renowned for his learning and intellect and this along with the peculiar design of the castle has lead many to speculate over about its symbolic significance.
The castle does not have many standard defensive features and indeed includes a number of windows which would severly weaken a defensive castle. It has a window on each facade of the ground floor and a mullioned window on each facade of the floor above. The side facing the city of Andria has a three-mullioned window.
At the centre of the castle is an octagonal courtyard and surrounding this are eight rooms on each floor each with vaulted ceilings. Three of the surrounding towers are stair towers and others contain toilets and washrooms attesting to the care Frederick and his court are said to have devoted to their bodies.
Sadly not much remains of the internal decorations of the rooms but it is worth a visit to the castle to explore its unusual design and for the views you get over the surrounding Puglia countryside.
The castle is thought to have been the inspiration for the fortress "Aedificium" in Umberto Eco's novel "The Name of the Rose".
Places to Visit Nearby
One of the largest medieval castles of Italy is nearby at Barletta. This is also the town from where Frederick II began his sixth crusade.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Puglia guide.