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Castel del Monte

By Maria and Katerina

What is Castel del Monte?

Castel del Monte is an impressive 13th-century castle built atop a hill in rugged Puglia, one of the prettiest and most authentic regions in Italy

Historians initially believed that Castel del Monte wasn’t a defensive fortress. Built in the 1240s amidst a landscape of unparalleled natural beauty, the castle was commissioned by King Frederick II to reflect his passion for the arts and architecture.

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However, more recent studies have revealed that the castle used to have a curtain wall. Therefore, it was indeed used as a fortress at some point in its history. 

Text: Castel del Monte, Italy. Images: Two views of the castle.

Why is Castel del Monte a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Castel del Monte is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture that blends cultural elements from classical antiquity, the Muslim world and Europe.

Moreover, according to the UNESCO website “The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II” and “represent a search for perfection”.

A view of one of the sides of Castel del Monte, showing two octagonal towers flanking one flat wall with a simple door at the base up a short stairway and a single window above the door on the upper floor.

What can you expect on a visit to Castel del Monte?

Castel del Monte is an imposing construction that dominates the stunning Apulian countryside that surrounds it. From a distance, it seems as though the castle hovers above the land, reaching out to touch the sky. 

Looking at the castle more closely, King Frederick’s brilliant use of the number 8 is striking. Castel del Monte is an octagonal building. There are octagonal towers at each corner, eight rooms on each floor and an eight-sided interior courtyard.   

On the other hand, the castle’s rooms are rather unassuming. That’s because Castel del Monte was looted in the 18th century. As a result, all the furniture, marbles and other decorations are now long gone. 

Inside the octagonal courtyard: 4 sides are visible, each with a shallow gothic arch and two of them with a romanesque archway and doorway inside the gothic arch.

Is Castel del Monte worth visiting?

Castel del Monte is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. On a bright sunny day, it’s even worth making a special trip to admire the castle’s architecture and take in the beauty of the scenery. To make the most of your visit to Castel del Monte, you need at least a full hour to wander around its grounds.

Alternatively, try this walking tour of Castel del Monte and then take this 3-hour e-bike tour of the area around the castle.

What sorts of travellers would like Castel del Monte?

History buffs and architecture lovers would enjoy a visit to Castel del Monte immensely. Also, families travelling with kids could spend a fantastic day trip in the area, as it combines the castle’s unique medieval vibe with the chance to spend a day in nature. 

A view looking up the drive to the castle. It stands on a hill, and in this photo four of the octagonal towers show, with two of them framing the main entrance.

Tips for visiting Castel del Monte 

Castel del Monte is quite popular with locals on Sundays and public holidays. Therefore, try not to visit the castle on those days, to avoid the crowds. If you are short on time, you can combine Castel del Monte with a day trip to the ancient cave town of Matera. However, this is an option only if you’re driving as there’s no public transport connection between the two. 

Use the map below to book accommodations near Castel del Monte. You might need to zoom out to see more options.

Booking.com

Where is Castel del Monte?

Castel del Monte is near Andria, a city near the Adriatic Coast of southern Italy. 

By car, Castel del Monte is about 30 minutes south of Andria, 40 minutes south of Trani, one hour west of Bari or one hour north of Matera. 

There is a private parking lot near Castel del Monte that costs €5 but keep in mind that it still takes a bit of an uphill walk to get to the castle. 

By bus, it takes about an hour and a half from Andria, with a transfer in Corato. 

For more information about Castel del Monte, its opening hours and admission fees, see its official website.

Text and photos provided by Maria & Katerina of It’s All Trip To Me, a travel website focusing on photography, responsible travel and authentic experiences.

Have you been to Castel del Monte? If so, do you have any additional information or advice about this UNESCO World Heritage site? Please add your comments below!

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