Unlike other major European castles, it also brought in some Islamic art and classical antiquity that set new standards in building castles.
In the year 1197, Emperor Henry VI founded one of the greatest castles the world had seen. He called it the Castel del Monte. Its formal perfection and combination of cultural elements from northern Europe makes it a masterpiece in its own right. Unlike other major European castles, it also brought in some Islamic art and classical antiquity that set new standards in building castles.
The king is further credited with bringing order in his otherwise unruly Sicily Kingdom that included large swathes of land in Southern Italy. The king was responsible for what historians refer to as ‘the Southern Renaissance’.
Emperor Henry was a scholar. From mathematics to astronomy to natural sciences, the king sought knowledge from everyone. He brought scholars from Greece, Arab lands; and had the works of Ptolemy, Galen, Aristotle and Averroes translated to Latin. The great leader also founded the University of Naples. For his talents, the king acquired the title of Stupor Mundi…translated as ‘Wonder of the World’.
The king applied absolute monarchy in Sicily unlike in Germany where he encouraged feudal system. It is for defensive purposes that he founded Casa del Monte which was finished in 1250 and became the seat of his court. Upon his death in 1250, the Hohenstaufen hold over the kingdom weakened and this allowed the Angevin dynasty to start ruling until the mid-15th century. With no remarkable use, the castle was used as a stronghold and later as a barrack. It is during this period that the castle lost its beauty to pillaging and vandalism and neglect.
It is situated in the Commune of Andria about 29 kilometers south of Barletta. It is nestled on a rocky peak that is surrounded by countryside. The castle’s layout is a regular octagon that surrounds a courtyard. The courtyard features a tower that is also octagon shaped. The castles walls are built with limestone and quartz. It has 2 storeys that feature 8 chambers that are equal in size. The lower storey has trapezoidal rooms.
All the rooms are ornamented and feature Greek marble. You will also see some Burgundian and Champagne decorations in the castle.
Without belaboring the point, you should visit this beautiful castle – if you don’t, it’s your loss.