The great Emperor Frederick II, known as Stupor Mundi – Wonder of the World, is the “father” of Castel del Monte, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The extraordinary fortress sits on a gentle, green hill in the National Park of Alta Murgia, about 20 km (50 mi) away from Andria.
The fortress might have originally been used as an astronomical observatory or as an imposing hunting lodge. Its mysterious octagonal base sets it significantly apart from all the other castles in Puglia.
Castel del Monte is protected by splendid mythological creatures which adorn the keystones in the inside halls and the lavish porphyry doorframes
Rich in history, the castle was built around 1240 when Frederick II commissioned its construction, apparently over the ruins of a former fortress.
Violante, daughter of the Stupor Mundi, celebrated her wedding within its massive walls. It was later abandoned for centuries, during which time it was used as a refuge and prison, until it was renovated in 1879. In 1996 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The number eight, which symbolizes the union between man and God, is a recurring theme of the building's proportions. The structure has an octagonal base and there are eight towers at each of its corners, as well as an octagonal-shaped internal courtyard.
The two-story building is accessible from a doorway on the Eastern wall. It is said that Fredrick II oversaw the castle’s design personally.
Frederick II is one of the protagonists of Puglia's medieval history. Emperor of the Sacred Roman Empire from 1211 until his death in 1250, he commissioned many castles in the region, which can still be admired today. His keen interest in the arts and sciences, led him to be considered the Stupor Mundi (the Wonder of the World).
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