The mysterious legend of Castel del Monte

The history of Puglia region boasts an articulated past where more cultures have led to a particular geographical and architectural structure.

Indigenous populations of Greek’s origins have given way to the Romans, the Goths, the Lombards and many others.  Each of these populations has left important traces to their passage, not simple relics of antiques but a real legacy that you can admire even just walking through the smaller villages, the countryside or along the coasts.
It was in particular under the reign of the Two Sicilies and with the advent of the Swabians there are more testimonies in this regard, in the form of the beautiful castles that can be admired scattered throughout the region in the most fascinating and rich in history.

The monument par excellence in Puglia is definitely Castel del Monte. Built in the 13th century by the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire Frederick II on the plateau of the Western Murge near Andria.

A perfectly octagonal building that at each corner has a tower of equal shape, whose measurements are linked to hidden meanings still under investigation and whose purpose is still unclear. Its position is not strategic and is not suitable as a fortress, without the characteristic elements of the bases for hunting, it was hypothesized that it was a kind of temple. Many scholars have found astronomical symbols inside. Visit the fortress of Castel del Monte, it is a journey into mystery.

The legends concerning Castel del Monte are really numerous.

Stories describe terrible stories of ghosts that roam inside the castle without being able to find peace. Probably servants, brigands or passing men, killed in the walls of the fortress, failing to make the transition, according to the legend they began to wander aimlessly where their life was broken centuries ago. Some people think that it is the soul of Frederick II who does not want to abandon his beloved home of the Castel, but there are many who argue that the sovereign in that house has never passed; others believe it is the spirit of some prisoner who committed suicide. In fact it would seem a plausible fact that there was a prison in the castle and that someone could take his life, taken by despair.

Real or surreal that it is, the castle is surrounded by an aura of mystery that leaves much room for imagination. Beyond the castle, which is already full of details, to make the stories even more fascinating is the fact that the manor was built inside a dense forest, precisely with the intent not to be seen by everyone and therefore remain in the mystery.

Probably before the castle, and this seems to have been documented, there was a Benedictine monastery at the same place. This would also explain the choice of the octagonal plan. The circle represents the union of the earth with the divine and the octagon is the geometric shape closest to the circle; for this reason, perhaps the true function of the castle could be of spiritual reconciliation with God.

Probably the link of the fortress was  the order of the Templars and represented for them an ideal place to carry out an initiatory path. It is said that Frederick II often met in secret the representatives of the most important religious orders. It may be that the sovereign intended to unify all religions (Judaism, Islamism and Christianity) into one but, having died shortly after completion of the building of the castle, his will remained unfulfilled.

We can affirm with certainty that, regardless of all the esoteric theories concerning Castel del Monte, the most fascinating thing to know is its history. Rich in events, it includes the deeds of a great emperor.

What was Castel del Monte and what it still stands today has made this architectural masterpiece recognized in 1996 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.