Castel del Monte (Castídde d’u Monte in Barese and the Castle of the Mountain in English) is an old 13th century edifice commissioned by imperatore Federico II (Emperor Frederick II of Swabia) and it has turned into a symbol of Puglia through the centuries. It is a place of mysteries and magic in the heart of Apulia. It’s situated more precisely in the commune of Andria, on one of the hills of the western Altopiano delle Murge (this is a karst topographic rectangular plateau in Italy, to the South, in Puglia, in particular).
The castle was officially commissioned on January 29, 1240 when the emperor said that he would provide everything needed for its construction, even though lots of scholars were against his idea and disagreed with it. Moreover, it’s not certain who exactly the architect was and who gave the idea of its design. Some say it was Riccardo da Lentini or Federico II himself. No matter what the truth is, the legend of il Castel del Monte is worth sharing. And it goes like this ….
The origin of the Castle of the Mountain is related to one script in one ancient temple. The sign says the following: “My head is of bronze but it will become golden at sunrise, on the first day of May”. One day a Saracen discovered the secret meaning of the text and started digging at the place where the shadow of the statue was quite visible. All of a sudden, he found very rich and antique treasure which the castle was built with.
The castle has a perfect geometric design which reminds of a complex labyrinth. The emperor’s three footprints have still been visible in its structure. The first one has been embedded in a three-leaf lily with a stem, hidden in the light in the sixth hall. A very peculiar fact is the sum of the eight sides on which the outer walls have been constructed and the forty-eight smaller sides of the towers. When calculated, they were fifty-six in total and this number corresponded to the emperor’s age.
Another interesting thing about the castle is its imposing gate. It consists of 2 columns and 2 lions. The first of them looks in the direction in which sun rises at winter solstice and the other one’s head is in the direction in which the sun rises at summer solstice. By the way, if you imagine cutting the gate into two parts by a vertical line, you will see the third element – one huge letter “F” (the first letter of the emperor’s name), on the left hand side.