Castel del Monte
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- Castel del MonteMember ofOutdoor EnthusiastsBusiness TravelersFoodies+ 2
This was a very cool stop over on our trip across Italy. Its located in the middle of nowhere, a giant octagonal building on a hill. A couple of hours is enough to explore the whole place.
- Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte is a 13th century castle situated in Andria. It was built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II sometime between 1240 and 1250; it has been despoiled of its interior marbles and furnishings in subsequent centuries. It has neither a moat nor a drawbridge and might in fact never have been intended as a defensive fortress. It’s an enigmatic construction, which today, still conserves some unresolved mysteries.
Castel del Monte is situated on a small hill close to the monastery of Santa Maria del Monte, 540 m above sea level. Its strategic position was an essential feature for the communication roads intended by the Emperor.
After the Emperor’s death, it was later turned into a prison, used as a refuge during a plague, and finally fell into disrepair. It originally had marble walls and columns, but all were stripped by vandals.
After having been abandoned for a considerable length of time, the castle was purchased in 1876 by the Italian government, which began the process of restoration in 1928.
Castel del Monte was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996, who described it as "a unique masterpiece of medieval military architecture"
The fortress is an octagonal prism with an octagonal bastion at each corner. Each floor has 8 rooms and an eight-sided courtyard occupies its centre. The octagon is thought to be an intermediate symbol between a square (representing the earth) and a circle (representing the sky). Frederick II may have been inspired to build to this shape by either the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, which he had seen while on Crusade, or by the Palace Chapel of Aachen Cathedral.
The main wall is 25 m high and the eight bastions each 26 m. The sides of the main octagon are 16.5 m long and those of the octagonal towers each 3.1 m. The castle has a diameter of 56 m. Its main entrance faces due east.
The design of its portal contains Frederick II’s signature, a gigantic reflected F with a vertical line passing through its axis. There are lions above the portal which are orientated towards a point in the horizon where the sun rises during the summer and winter solstices. In this way, the orientation of the whole Castle has strong connections with the cardinal points.
The first and second rooms seem to be linked but are off from the others and are used to form a passage to the rest of the structure. The courtyard is fitted with an octagonal fountain. All of the towers contain spiral staircases, bathrooms and lavatories with advanced plumbing facilities for the date. Almost all the 16 rooms have windows, fireplaces and doors between rooms, considering the privacy of the guests.
Overlooking the courtyard on the next floor up are three door-windows of refined classical manufacture, framed by two mullions that support an archivolt decorated with foliage. In the past, they linked up with a wooden gallery, in the middle of which there was an octagonal marble basin. Moving on into the eighth room it is possible to admire...
hexagons in white stone and black wedges featured. Going up the staircase in the tower, there is a work of art attributed to Niccoló Pisano. The upper floor has six robust ribs set on shelves with extremely realistic caryatids, sculptured in various positions. The rooms on the first floor are more illuminated and slender. From the fifth room the falconer's tower could be reached which is exposed as a falcon aviary. The two masks of exquisite classical mould represent a women's face and a faun's face, as well as serving to hold up the ribs. Going up the terrace, a double sloping roof encloses the courtyard area. The inner roof diverted the water to the tank of the court by means of lead tubes set in the masonry, whereas the external one diverted water to the piping of the towers' bathrooms.
From 1st March to 30th September: from 10.15 to 19.45 From 1st October to 28th February: from 9.15 to 18.45 Admission fee: €3.00, 18-25 year olds: € 1.50.
Admission is free for under 18’s and over 65’s.
The ticket office closes half an hour in advance.
review by mybestapulia.com | book, discover, tour, events, tourist information
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Aliases: UNESCO Castel del Monte