Driving through olive groves and sun scorched plains, on top of a hill, a fortress breaks up the landscape of Italy’s heel. In the middle of nowhere in the Puglia region of Italy, a lone castle waits, elevated from the common man or woman. This castle is unlike most in Italy, enough that UNSECO gave it its stamp of approval.
Castel del Monte makes you work to reach her. A 20-minute walk in the hot Italian sun up to the Castle’s feet doesn’t go without reward. Fredrick II had the castle constructed in 1240. The strange octagonal shape alludes to the idea that the castle could have been some sort of mathematical offering to a higher power. However, some believe the castle was built to showcase Fredrick’s power, resembling the shape of a crown. No spots to pour hot oil on invaders or positions to shoot arrows down to those that got a little too close for comfort, Castel del Monte probably had an easy life.
That is until Fredrick II died, leaving behind his strange construction hinting at Muslim architecture. Castel del Monte would be looted, stripped of its grand interior of mosaics and statues.
Upon entering the castle, I am not only fascinated by why it was constructed, but also its ruined archways. The bright rosy red color of the castle’s arches grab you as you pass under them. No furniture or tapestries remain. Just these ruined arches and open space, reminding all who enter simplicity is king in Puglia’s middle of nowhere.