The mysterious Castel del Monte in Apulia


Built by Frederick II in the XIII century, located 60 kilometers away from Bari and universally considered a brilliant blend of architecture, Castel del Monte combines different stylistic elements, from Romanesque cutting input lions to the gothic frame of the towers, from the classical art of interior decorations to the architecture of the defensive structure  and to the delicate subtleties of Islamic mosaics. With its massive octagonal structure, the Castle dominates the small stretch of the western Murge located 18 kilometers away from Andria.

Castel del Monte became the permanent home of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen court, ruler of the Kingdom of Sicily. The mathematical and astronomical rigor of its plan, based on the eight as a guide number and its placement, designed to create special symmetries of light in the days of solstice and equinox, create a symbolism that fascinates scholars for centuries, leaving visitors a feeling of pleasant enigma. Its two floors are connected inside the towers by spiral staircases arranged counterclockwise, unlike the other defensive constructions of the time.

Masterpiece of inestimable value in the history of Italy, Castel del Monte fully deserves the title of “World Heritage“: a place to live in its many mysteries and visit at least once in life.

When entering the complex by a large door, can be immediately noticed two large flights of stairs mirrored and the secondary entrance on the opposite side. The door was equipped with a mechanism that would not allow any crossing in and out, as the door closed magically once the person entered. Each element of this castle is important because it is almost certain that it was conceived as a huge “initiation machine” to model the spirit. In fact, since from the door of this building it is like obliged to follow a specific path. After choosing one of the two flights of stairs, you enter in a room (now used as a box office) which gives access to a second room which leads into the courtyard.

Room after room, door after door, like a maze that would lead to the solution or defeat, the prize or exit, to the knowledge or to return to the world, one experiences the spiritual path to enlightenment, the transformation of one’s mortal soul into immortal soul, all of which we find often in the Masonic context. Not for nothing the entire complex is engulfed by acanthus leaves, beloved symbol of the Freemasons. All rooms are the same except one, the famous “magic room” with no windows, which is located on the ground floor, different from the other rooms because of  the floor decorations depicting the star of David. The latter was thought to be a room used for esoteric rituals.

One of the interpretations given to decipher the function of this mysterious castle is one that sees the entire structure as a huge Grail vessel within which it was possible the magic and the practice of alchemy. Another theory considers the castle as a simple astronomical observatory, where every day of the year it was possible to observe very specific constellations. By day, in fact, the sun with dry shadows, marks the yard with lines of light / shadow very impressive.

This castle was used as a dwelling, but for very short periods, because as it is supposed, it was the organizing center of secret alchemical and esoteric meetings of Frederick with scholars and academics of the time.

Castel del Monte is hidden behind a mystery in which everyone see their own interpretation; and it is precisely this aura of curiosity and legends that made the location a popular destination for many tourists from all over the world.
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