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World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Castel del Monte

Castel del Monte

Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval military architecture. Its form is perfect, its design a harmonious blend of cultural elements from Classical antiquity, Muslim architecture and the Cistercian Gothic of northern Europe.

Sponsor of its construction was Emperor Frederick II von Hohenstaufen. He was a man of many talents: an absolute monarch but also a great lover of culture. He spoke several languages and was interested in mathematics, astronomy and natural sciences. His stay in the Middle East (for the Crusades) heavily influenced his thinking.

The castle dates from 1240. After Frederick's death, it slowly fell into great disrepair. The mosaics and statues that have decorated the interior, were looted.

Map of Castel del Monte

Legend

  • Cultural

Visit January 2005

The castle has been built on a hill, in the middle of nowhere. To find the road to nowhere was not so easy, the signposting is a bit scarce, but find it I did. You can see the castle from afar, towering above the endless number of olive trees in the quite lovely environment.

January 2005

The perfect octogonal shape of the building is its main asset. Among the many comparisons that can be made, the Taj Mahal also sprang to my mind. The special kind of limestone with quartz used here from a distance looks like marble (from which the Taj is made). And the Moghuls had some inspirations in common with Frederick.

January 2005

I also took a look inside, but there's not much to see anymore. It is hard to picture how people have lived here. From the many stories mystifying this castle, I didn't get the impression that it was used regularly. Probably it was "just" meant as a work of art. And for that the Castel del Monte still is admired, more than 750 years after its construction.

January 2005

Community Reviews


Tom Livesey United Kingdom 25.08.15

In July 2015 I visited Castel del Monte, driving from the hard-to-like city of Bari. As far as anyone can tell, this castle was never used as a military stronghold. Indeed, it was never intended as such, but as a grand ‘statement piece’. Frederick II had been involved in the Crusades, and this castle was imbued with symbolism, being a blend of Classical, Islamic and contemporary European features.

Why the octagons? The roof of Aachen Cathedral – where Holy Roman Emperors such as Frederick were crowned – has an octagonal roof. The Dome of the Rock – Jerusalem’s most important Muslim shrine – is also of octagonal construction. Thus, Castel del Monte was designed to embrace the octagon as a symbol of peace between the Christian and Muslim civilisations.

So, a fascinating history. But I have to say that to visit the site is not such a thrill. We had to park up at the bottom of the hill and then pay a grumpy bus driver to take us up to the castle. Then it is a separate entrance fee to get inside the building, in which you can see … not very much. The castle is entirely empty, and not particularly large. It was in pretty poor nick when restoration work began, and they have certainly made it feel pristine again. Perhaps a little too pristine, judging by the bright orange of this column! But what do I know, maybe it was like that in Frederick’s time.


Clyde Malta 10.06.14

Castel del Monte by Clyde

I visited this WHS in June 2014. I ventured on an early morning drive in the Alta Murgia National Park. The drive past rolling hills with red poppies, cherry trees and olive trees was already a good start but standing alone on a promontory in the middle of the park was the Castel del Monte. There is a huge parking lot about 800 metres from it where I left my car and with the 5 euro ticket I got a return shuttle bus ride to the WHS. The castle is in a very good state and it really gleams in sunny weather. Its octagonal plan is really unique and several information boards inside the empty castle give you detailed info on the history, architecture and significance of this site. The courtyard is the main highlight inside the castle but other than that the 5 euro entrance fee doesn't offer much. The panoramic views from the castle are not to be missed and I think that opening the castle's terrace/roof in the future would make a much more interesting visit. I finished off my visit with a hearty snack near Andria - Focaccia Bread with Burratina ... bliss!


Attilio Altavilla, Australia 08.09.09

Hi My name is Attilio Altavilla, brother of Enrico and Oscar Altavilla. I took my brother Oscar's advice and visited il Catel del Monte. he was absolutely correct, it is a magical place and one i will cherish for the rest of my life. I highly recommend this place to anyone who visits Italy. Bro you were right in recommending this place and i will never question your judgement again.


Klaus Freisinger Austria

Castel del Monte is a true architectural masterpiece and one of the most famous castles in the world (it even features on the Italian 1-cent coin). Even for those who are not related to Frederick II (see below), there is a definite magical atmosphere to be felt there. To be sure, the inside of the castle is slightly disappointing, since it's completely empty, but the sight of it from far away as you approach it is spectacular. It was not used for a very long time, and then only for falconry, so not much has changed since Frederick's days. The rule of the German dynasty of Hohenstaufen in southern Italy has left many traces there, especially in the form of castles in lots of cities, but none surpass Castel del Monte in sheer beauty and splendor.


Joshua Altavilla, Australia 16.08.06

I have never been there in my life but my my uncles are Enrique and Oscar and my aunty is Grace!! Viva Italia!!!!!


Grace Cincotta, Australia 26.07.06

I have visited the Castel Del Monte two years ago while I was visiting family in Manfredonia. I found it to be an amazing experience.


Oscar Altavilla, AUstralia 26.07.06

Hi my name is Oscar Altavilla and i am Enrico ALtavilla's brother. I recently went to Castel del Monte and found it very interesting.It was a wonderful experience , one that i will cherish for the rest of my life!If anyone wishes to Visit Italy i would recommend the CAstel del Monte as being their first stop!


Enrico Altavilla, Australia 16.06.06

My name is Enrico Altavilla. I am a direct descendant of Frederick II, the once King of Southern Italy for whom the Castel Del Monte was built. It is said that Frederick had a good friend who was an Alchemist. When Frederick was in the process of designing the castle, he consulted with this particular friend. The layout of the castle follows some of the suggestions made. The elements, fire and water are arranged in the castle in line with these recommendations. One of the eight octagonal towers which circle the castle, was used by Frederick II as an Aviary which housed his Falcons. Frederick actually wrote at least one book on the topic of Falconry. I am proud of my ancestor for both his intellect and power when going into battle. To this day in Sicily, they celebrate the victory experienced against the invading army of Turkey which was lead by Frederick. May the Castel Del Monte serve as a monument which stands for 'Mens Conscia Recti'. The Altavilla Motto which translated means, ' A Mind Conscious Of Right'.


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Site Info

Full name: Castel del Monte

Unesco ID: 398

Inscribed: 1996

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 1   2   3  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 1996 - Inscribed 
  • 1987 - Deferred Italian government hadn't given adequate safeguard assurances

Locations

The site has 1 locations.

  • Castel del Monte

Connections

The site has 8 connections.

Constructions

Individual People

WHS Hotspots

World Heritage Process