Medieval castles in Apulia

Gioia del Colle Castle

Gioia del Colle Castle dates originally from the Byzantine era from 9th century. It was composed of a rectangular fortified enclosure in limestone. Between the 9th and 10th centuries, the castle was expanded by Richard of Hauteville, the Duke of Apulia. The oldest document where the Castle is mentioned dates back to 1108, so the expansion could have been before the Norman enlargement. Richard of Hauteville transformed the ...
Founded: 9t | Location: Gioia del Colle, Italy

Bisceglie Castle

Bisceglie Castle was originally a tower built around 1060-1070 by Normans and enlarged in the 13th century by Swabian counts. The tower was made later higher by the Angevines. Originally the castle was a four-sided building with five towers; today there are three towers left. The North-East tower is adjacent to the 12th century St Giovanni in Castro Church, which was included in the castle as its chapel during the Angevin ...
Founded: 1060-1070 | Location: Bisceglie, Italy

Massafra Castle

The Castle of Massafra is a medieval castle overlooking the Pizzo Ravine and San Marco. Its structure and architectural motifs are similar to other castles in Apulia, with four towers arranged in a wishbone and pattern and linked by boundary walls. The oldest towers are circular, while the keep is octagonal in the southeast. The first definite record of the castle dates back to the year 970. In 1081, a diploma of the cas ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Massafra, Italy

Carovigno Castle

The first document to mention the castle in Carovignot dates back to 1163. Since then, the fortress fell in the hands of several rulers, the Normans of Geoffrey III of Montescaglioso, the Swabians in 1194 and the Angevines in 1306. In 1382 it passed to the prince of Taranto Raimondo del Balzo Orsini who then bequeathed it to his wife, queen Maria of Enghien, countess of Lecce.  The present appearance of the castle is du ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Carovigno, Italy

San Nicandro Castle

San Nicandro castle as we see it today dates from the 15th century although it was built on the site of a much more older fortress dating from the Norman and Swabian periods. The castle is trapeze shaped with four corner towers, and was renovated during the 17th century. On the north side there are two square towers, one of which is one of the original towers, while on the south side there are two round towers built by t ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: San Nicandro Garganico, Italy

Andrano Castle

Spinola-Caracciolo castle in Andrano was built in the 14th century and restored a century later. The square form castle was corner towers and machicolations.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Andrano, Italy

Alfonsino Castle

The Aragonese Alfonsino Castle, best known as Forte a Mare ('Sea Fort'), was built by King Ferdinand I of Naples in 1491 on the S. Andrea island facing the port of Brindisi. It is divided into two sections: the 'Red Castle' (from the color of its bricks) and the more recent Fort. The castle was besieged by Venetians in 1529 and French army in 1799. It was damaged by storm in the modern age and was aba ...
Founded: 1491 | Location: Brindisi, Italy

Sannicandro di Bari Castle

The Norman-Hohenstaufen Castle in Sannicandro di Bari is composed of two distinct parts, put into each other, built in separate periods by the Byzantines and the Hohenstaufens. Its construction dates back to 916, the initiative of the Byzantine general Niccolò Piccingli, who had ordered the construction of a fortress for the defence of Apulia against the Saracens. The original core of the castle, of Byzantine origin, con ...
Founded: 916 AD | Location: Sannicandro di Bari, Italy

Brindisi Swabian Castle

The Castello Svevo di Brindisi or Castello Svevo-Aragonese (because of Hohenstaufen origin and the later conversion into the reign of the house Aragón called), is located in the city Brindisi in the Italian region of Apulia. The city ​​castle was built on the edge of the old town and the inner part of the harbor, so that both important parts of the city could be defended from the castle. According to the testimony o ...
Founded: 1227 | Location: Brindisi, Italy

Muscettola Castle

Muscettola Castle was dates from the 12th-13th centuries and was rebuilt during the Angevin period in the late 14th century. Muscettola family owned it from 1617 until mid-19th century. After them the castle came under the ownership of a wealthy local family who used it for olive oil, wine and tobacco production. Muscettola castle is now owned by the Municipality of Leporano, who have completed much restoration in order ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Leporano, Italy

Falconibus Castle

Falconibus Castle in Pulsano was originally erected in the 12th-14th centuries, but destroyed in 1388. De Falconibus family started to rebuild it around 1430. It has a quadrangular plant and five towers of different heights and bases.
Founded: 1430 | Location: Pulsano, Italy

Santo Stefano Castle

The Castello di Santo Stefano is an important coastal fortress outside the city of Monopoli in the Italian region of Apulia. Throughout the Middle Ages it was an essential component of the city's complex and articulated defense system. The castle, which was built in 1086 at the behest of Goffredo, Count of Conversano, is located on a peninsula between two bays of the Adriatic Sea that form two small natural ha ...
Founded: 1086 | Location: Monopoli, Italy

Gravina Castle

According to Giorgio Vasari, Gravina castle was designed in 1231 by one Fuccio from Florence. It was built by oly Roman Emperor Frederick II on the hill nearby the town, originally a base for bird hunting. The 58 x 29m rectangular size castle had four towers.
Founded: 1231 | Location: Gravina in Puglia, Italy

Tutino Castle

The Tutino Castle, or better the Trane"s Castle in Tricase is among the few in the Salento to keep still part of the original moat. Built in the 15th century, was for centuries a safe shelter for the inhabitants of the hamlet of Tutino. Its mighty walls, high 6-7 meters thick and 1.40 meters, are made of stones and bolus and have the lower part the escarpment. Of the numerous towers positioned along the wall circuit, ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Tricase, Italy

Marchione Castle

Marchione castle was a hunting lodge of the Acquaviva of Aragona, counts of Conversano, from around the year 1000 AD. The sumptuous building, with a rectangular shape and four cylindrical keeps on the corner, has been built on three floors. The ground floor, the mezzanine and the four towers date back to the Middle Ages, while the upper floor dates back to the Neoclassic- Baroque age, maybe a work by the school of Van ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Conversano, Italy

Castelpagano Castle

Castelpagano Castle has a quadrangular form of 150 metres of perimeter with a pentagonal tower and two circular towers. In the middle of the structure a well tank was used to collect rainwater. The castle had been there since the beginning of the 11th century. Indeed, from the description of the borders of the abbey of San Giovanni de Lama drawn up to confirm the property by the Catapan Basil Bojannes, it is evident that ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Apricena, Italy

Caprarica Castle

The Castello di Caprarica is a castle in the municipality of Tricase. The building of the fortress was probably a consequence of the climate of fear that spread after the Turkish conquest of Otranto in 1480 and the subsequent Turkish raids. The fortress has a rectangular plan and was once surrounded by a moat. The 6-7 meters high and 1.4 meters thick walls were made from irregularly shaped blocks of brown Carparo - limes ...
Founded: 1480-1524 | Location: Tricase, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.