Castel del Monte

A perfectly ogtagonal castle perched atop olive groves in Apulia, Italy

Frederick II was a poet and an architect in addition to being an all-around great leader. He built a great many castles that dominate the cities throughout his Italian kingdom, but his most ambitious and fantastic creation by far sits alone in the Pugliese countryside.

The 1240 masterpiece of octagonal proportions, Castel del Monte (tel. +39 0883-569-848 or 0883-290-286), commands a 1780-foot hilltop, rising in the distance above wheat fields and olive groves like a vision, a geometric perfection of sharp lines and pale honey-gray stone with eight-sided towers at each corner.

The virtually empty interior is constructed of high vaulted rooms angling off each other to surround an octagonal courtyard with mesmerizing sameness and precision.

It's open daily April to September 9am to 6:30pm, October to March 9am to 1:30pm.

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Visitor info: The nearest tourist office is in the town of Andria (tel. +39-0883-592-283).

How to get to Castel del Monte
  • By car: The castle's on the SS170bis 20km (12 miles) from the town of Andria.
  • By bus/train: To Andria, take a twice hourly Ferrotranvia bus or train from Bari (60–90 min.), or one of 23 (9 Sunday) SITA buses from Trani (25 min.). Unfortunately, from Andria there are just a few buses, in summer only, to the castle (25 min.); a taxi will be enormously expensive.

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Visitor info: The nearest tourist office is in the town of Andria (tel. +39-0883-592-283).

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