Castel del Monte, Apulia, Italy
© Toni Spagone/Alam
Info. Castel del Monte, Apulia, Italy
Built in the 1240s by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in south-east Italy, Castel del Monte (Castle of the Mount) has an unusual design. Eight stone walls stretch between eight octagonal towers and enclose an octagonal courtyard. Each of the two floors also has eight trapezoidal rooms. Listed as a World Heritage site in 1996, the castle has a blend of classical Roman, Arabic and medieval architecture and design.
Its original purpose is unclear. Without a drawbridge or moat, some considered it never to have been intended as a defensive fortress, and its lack of stables raise doubt on its function as a hunting lodge. Over the centuries it has been a prison and refuge during a plague. But whatever the emperor’s intention, he left a captivating monument that still enchants today.