Castel del Monte

Castel del Monte
Photo by Els Slots.

Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval military architecture, with a perfect form.

Its design is a harmonious blend of cultural elements from Classical antiquity, Muslim architecture and the Cistercian Gothic of northern Europe. The sponsor of its construction was Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II von Hohenstaufen, an absolute monarch and Crusader, but also a great lover of culture, mathematics, astronomy and natural sciences.

Community Perspective: Its perfect octagonal plan is unique and the building is well-preserved as it never saw any fighting. The inside is completely empty, as the contents were looted after the Middle Ages. Tsunami tried to visit on public transport, failed miserably but it all ended well.

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Japan / USA / Europe - 25-Feb-18 -

Castel del Monte by Tsunami

My last 3 remaining WHSs in Italy were spread all over the country (Aquileia in the north-east, Barumini in Sardinia and Castel del Monte in the south) and were giving me headaches. After visiting Aquileia and upon finding out that it's only around 30 Euros each to fly from Venice Treviso to Cagliari in Sardinia and from Cagliari to Bari in the south on Ryanair, I just decided to finish them up once and for all (even though the 25 hour stay in Sardinia in winter didn't sound right). 

But this is about Castel del Monte outside Bari. 


There is no bus whatsoever in winter from Andria (or Corato), the nearest train stations to the Castel.  But I did find after a painstaking online research that there was one bus (not on Sunday) leaving Bari at 14:10 for Spinazzola, stopping at the Castel at 15:05 on the way. (The webpage says the timetable is effective from September 2017 to June 2018 and last updated in November 2017.) 

I was supposed to have 40 min. in Bari (between my train arrival from Altamura and the bus departure to Castel) to buy the bus ticket and to find the bus .  But the train from Altamura arrived 30 min. late, so I had only 10 min. in Bari.  The center of Bari has 3 train stations operated by different train companies and several bus stops around them, so it was not an easy task, especially in the rain.  I certainly did not have time to buy the bus ticket and hoped I could buy it on the bus, as you can do so on some buses but not on others in Italy.  So I "frantically focused" on finding the bus during the 10 min. and almost miraculously found it!

But when I said to the driver I wanted to go to Castel del Monte, he, who certainly didn't speak very good English, said, even though the bus was going by the Castel, it is not supposed to stop there. What!!!???  I had the screen capture of the bus timetable on my smart phone, which I showed him.  He couldn't believe what he saw and called his bus company, which apparently told him his bus was not supposed to stop there, contrary to what their webpage says. I begged him to drop me off there, and then he asked me for the ticket.  I said my train was late and didn't have time to buy the ticket, wherever it's sold (which kiosk???). This was the end of the story. This was the worst moment of my 20-day long trip, as the painstaking research was wasted, and now I had to take a taxi from Andria to Castel. 

I do think that if I had had the bus ticket to Spinazzola, the driver would have probably let me get on the bus and dropped me off at Castel.  So after all I blame the late train on this incident, or I should blame myself for believing in Italian train. 

Within 30 min. I was on a train in the direction of Andria, but from Ruvo to Andria I had to take a substitute bus.  What a pain!  And then from Andria to Castel, a taxi...  I really love and hate Italy! 

Castel del Monte: 

I was pleasantly surprised when the Castel came into my view from quite far away, as the taxi approached it. I had not realized that the Castel sat on top of a hill.

I arrived there about 16:30.  I was also impressed with the facade (or side view), which, perhaps due to its symmetry and color, immediately reminded me of Taj Mahal, an Islamic mosque.  Later I learned that the Castel also had had some Islamic influence architecturally.  After all this castle is not just another castle in Europe. It's quite unusual and imposing in an octagonal shape with an octagonal tower at each 8 corner.  I walked around inside of the Castel.  I thought this was definitely the worthy WHS as my last one in Italy (at least until a new one pops up). 


Because I was planning to take the same bus back to Bari in the next morning, I had made a reservation at a B&B called "Tenuta Tannoja" near the Castel, the only available accommodation I had found online.  It was about 3 km from the Castel if you take walking trails. But at about 17:30 it was dark and freezing cold outside, and I asked the staff at the Castel to call this B&B and ask if they could come to pick me up.  B&B did it for free, even though the road for car was about 10 km long. 

There was actually another major problem that night. The taxi driver told me as we were arriving at the Castel that there was no restaurant or store whatsoever in the vicinity of the Castel. (Why didn't he tell me earlier?) So I proceeded to buy whatever snacks I could find at a vending machine at the Castel, but when I found out that the B&B was in fact a farm that could prepare dinner for me for 25 Euros, it was the moment of the reversal of fortune for me on that day. 

When I was called in for dinner at the farm, I found a basket of bread, a plate of cold cuts, a pitcher of red wine and a large bottle of mineral water on the table and thought they were my dinner, about which I had no complaint. But then the old lady of the farm started bringing me one steaming dish after another, all in all 8 antipasto, most of which were tasty regional dishes I had never seen before.  The meal, infused by the red wine, was turning into a feast that momentarily reminded me of Fellini's "Satyricon."  For the main, she asked me if I wanted pasta or meat (primi or secondi) or both, and I said just pasta, as I was already pretty full by then. What she brought, pasta with turnip greens, was another regional specialty of Apulia.  It was followed by a dessert, which is too difficult to describe.  Without exaggeration, it was about the best Italian meal I've ever had, and I thanked the lady with "Fantastico!"  

Read more from Tsunami here.

Tom Livesey

United Kingdom - 25-Aug-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.


Malta - 10-Jun-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!

Enrico Altavilla

Australia - 16-Jun-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'.

Els Slots

The Netherlands - 04-Jan-05 -

Castel del Monte by Els Slots

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.

The perfect octagonal 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.

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.

Klaus Freisinger

Austria - 01-May-05 -

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). Constructed by the highly educated, multilingual Emperor Frederick II, 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.

Site Info

Full Name
Castel del Monte
Unesco ID
1 2 3
Structure - Military and Fortifications

Site History

1996 Inscribed

1987 Deferred

Italian government hadn't given adequate safeguard assurances


The site has 1 locations

Castel del Monte


Community Members have visited.

A. Mehmet Haksever Alessandro Alessandro Votta Alexander Barabanov Alexander Lehmann Ali Zingstra Alicemears Ammon Watkins Andrew Wembridge Anja Anna Wludarska Argo Arianna Aspasia Astraftis Atila Ege Bazikoln Bin Bori Sári Brendan Carroll Brigitte Huber Carlo.bergonzini Carstenhansen CeeMon Cezar Grozavu Cheryl Christian Wagner Christoph Claire Bradshaw ClaireWhiteley ClaraHH Clyde Cosaflora Craig Harder Cristina Erba CyBeRr Dan Pettigrew Daniel C-Hazard David Aaronson & Melanie Stowell David Berlanda David Marton Dibro Dimitar Krastev Dimitrios Polychronopoulos Donald M Parrish Jr Doug Robertson Dwight Zehuan Xiao Elia Vettorato Els Slots Emili Xaus Enrico Cerrini Eva Kisgyorgy Ezio1990 Fabi-ddorf Fabian Teusch Fan Yibo Farinelli Federico P. Feldhase Femke Roos Filip Murlak Fkarpfinger Flexiear Fmannucci Fool79 GeorgeIng61 GerhardM Gernot Gi Gianni Bianchini Giulio25 Grimloch Hadrianus Handballrama Harald T. HaraldOest Harry Mitsidis Hdimoshi Homadism Hubert Iain Jackson Ivan Rucek J. Stevens JBTOR Jaakkotoivanen Jagnes Jakob Frenzel Jana and Matt Janina Lehmann Janis Jezza Joao Farminhao JobStopar Joel on the Road John booth Jon Eshuijs Jonas Kremer Jose Antonio Collar Josef Mikus Joseph C. Joyce van Soest João Aender Jsalda Judit Dalla Julianna Lees Julie July Junwang111 KYLE ROUSSEL Kadet722796 KarenBMoore Kbecq Kelly Henry Klaus Freisinger Knut Komorfil Krijn LaVale Lara Adler Lauren Leontine Helleman Lidiane Linda Sereno Lisu Marian Liverpool1023 Loic Pedras Lois Dekker Lorenzo Mejino Lorenzo2022 Lucas Del Puppo Luciano Imperadori Lucio Gorla Ludvan Luis Filipe Gaspar MAURO PODDA MH MMM Marcel staron Marie Morlon Markus Martina Rúčková Marton Kemeny Matthewsharris Małgosia Łupicka Michiel Dekker Mikko Monchan5396 Monica Tasciotti Monika and Rini Nan Nasebaer Nicole Kilian Nihal Ege Paola Laura Paolo ZaK Pascal Cauliez Patphilly Patrik Paul Schofield Peter Lööv Petteri Philipp Leu Philipp Peterer Pieter Dijkshoorn Pink Bunny Potsdamer Q Rahelka Ralf Rotheimer Randi Thomsen Riccardo Quaranta Robin Frank Roccobot Roel Sterken Roger Ourset Rogerding Roman Bruehwiler Roman Koeln Rvieira Sabrina Liebehentschel Sergio Arjona Shandos Cleaver SirLoydd Skalec Stanislaw Warwas SteO153 Stefan and Mia Stefania Giudice Svein Elias Szucs Tamas Tamara Ratz Tarquinio_Superbo Thibault Magnien Thomas Buechler Thomas van der Walt TimAllen Tkinou Tom Livesey Tommasorossotti Tonisan Tony0001 Tourhistrio Triath Tsunami Usagi1974 ValiaVeweth Van Hung Vanessa Buechler Veelineen Viv WILLIAM RICH Walter H. Waxwing Werner Huber Whitegio Wojciech Fedoruk Wolfgang Hlousa WolfgangHl Wtrentfox Yevhen Ivanovych ZivaB Zoë Sheng Zsuzsanna Forray