il castello di Federico II - patrimonio UNESCO
Near Andria, alone on a hill in
the Apulian Murgi a, 540 metres above sea level, stands Castel
del Monte, the most famous monument from the times of the
Swabian Emperor Frederick II. It was built in the first half
of the XIII century. The criteria applied in its volume and
design perfectly synthesize the Emperor's artistic heritage,
which embraced various styles and cultures. The structure
recalls the Classical, yet anticipates the Humanist, and at
the same time, Romanesque and Gothic effects can be seen.
The principal influences, however, are those of the Arab and
Cistercian cultures, both dear to the Emperor.
The Castle was built on an unusual octagonal plan, with eight
equally octogonal towers marking the vertices of a polygon.
There is no moat, or defence works of any other kind. In fact,
the castle was not built for defence purposes, but as the
Emperor's monument to himself; to his temporal power. So it
rises up, a majestic lay-cathedral, a symbol of his wordly
del Monte weaves its own particular magic spell, each architectural
element following precise algebraic and astronomical laws.
It is almost as if it had been designed as a gigantic medieval
space observatory! The Castle has now been completely restored
and all of it is open to the public. The imposing portal in
corallite stone, recalling the triumphal arches of Roman times,
leads into the first room which, like all the other rooms
in the Castle, is trapezoidal and surmounted by a crossed
second room opens out onto an octogonal courtyard with three
finely decorated doorways, while a steep, winding staircase
leads to the upper storey. The ribs of the stairway roof rest
on cornices sculpted with expressive anthropomorphic figures,
a rare example of XIII century sculpture. In the upper rooms,
all the same shape and size, the coloured marble columns,
the doorways and window openings, decorated with corallite
stone, the fireplaces and keystones, also carved with anthropomorphic
figures, are all admirable in their workmanship.