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Castel Del Monte

The 13th-century Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick II. was a scholar and an architect .He influenced Italian Politics, Religion, Art, and Literature. He knew Arabic as well as Latin, and he was influenced by the crusade into the Arabic world.

He built the Castel Del Monte in the 1240s. The mysterious, singular, southern Italian fortress displays the Mediterranean culture of the Middle Ages and corresponds to the intricacies of Arab geometry circulating in North Africa at the time. It stands a masterpiece of mediaeval architecture and truly extraordinary in the history of European architecture.

“Star of the Murgia,” “Crown of Apulia,” “Stone Flower,” Imperial Gem” these are some of the epithets for this monument whose geometric perfection has been the cause of many liters of ink spent by many scholars and historians who still are pondering for the usage of such a structure those days and the purpose behind it’s construction .

The castle, along with the town of Andria, was a part of the Royal State under the Swabians (1240-1266), the Angevins (1266-1443) and the Aragonese (1443-1503) who succeeded each other to the throne of Naples. The Castle and the town of Andria also became the salve of the Del Balzos (1348-1502), the Cordovas (1503-1552) and the Carafas (1552-1799). Italian State acquired the castle in 1876, declaring it a national monument. First restoration measures started in 1928 and complete reorganization was finished in 1980.

Structure

Number eight is to the base of the construction. It's a perfect octagon, 123 feet across, with an octagonal center court. Its floor plan reflects octagonal Islamic tile work.

The castle has the singleness of an octagonal plant with an octagonal court in the middle, where maybe there was a pool. At the corner of the polygon there are eight structures, which look like towers even if their height is the same of the castle.

A Journey through the castle

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. There is a single entrance/exit. 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. Before they linked up with a wooden gallery, in the middle of which there was an octagonal marble basin. Moving on into the eighth room (with its fireplace), we can admire hexagons in white stone and black wedges featured. Going up staircase in the tower, a work of art attributed to Niccoló Pisano. The upper floor has six robust ribs set on shelves have extremely realistic caryatids, sculptured in various positions. The rooms on the first floor are more illuminated and slender. Feast your eyes upon the tri-styled (pillars). 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.

What has Graal to do with The Castel Del Monte?

The Teutonici Knights of 1190 were in contact with the Sufi mystics, who adored the God of three religions- Jewish, Muslim and Christian. Through theses knights, Sufi entrusted that the Graal was found in the castle to preserve it from the destructions triggered by the crusades. A palace to shape of octagonal goblet is built for the purpose of guarding the Graal

Falcon Hunting
Fredrick II designed a "Falcon's Tower" in his Castel Del Monte. The third tower that is located on the North side of his castle (West tower on that side) had upper levels that were falcon nests for his hunting falcons.

Castel del Monte has the "Falconer's Staircase," which leads to the roof, where Frederick II had his pets.

Where it is

This unique medieval manor house stands on top of a hill in the Apulian Murgia, 540 metres above sea level and 18 kms from Andria.

When to go

Every day (festive Sundays and comprised) from hours 10.00 to hours 13.30 and from hours 14.30 to hours 19.00.

Visiting Castel del Monte in the midday heat is not recommended. The entrance costs EUR 3 as of Summer 2002. Also that one cannot go with the car, as parking lots are not in the shade! and there is a penalty for parking near the castle. It is always advisable not to plan routes in Apulian in the high summer.

Hall of Fame

UNESCO included it in the World heritage list in 1996 because of its uniqueness and its universal value for formal perfection and harmonious blending of cultural elements from Northern Europe, Islamic Architecture and Classic Antiquity. It is considered a unique masterpiece of medieval military architecture, reflecting the humanism of its founder.

Castel del Monte, the octagonal castle situated in the territory of Andria built on the orders of Frederick II of Swabia, is one of the eight images featured on Italy's Euro coins, shown on the back of the one and two-cent pieces.