Melfi Castle

Melfi, Italy

Melfi Castle in Basilicata is one of the most important medieval castles in Southern Italy. It was built in the late 11th century by the Normans in a strategic location that serves as a gateway between Campania and Apulia.

Upon the arrival of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in 1194, Emperor Frederick II gave great importance to the Castle of Melfi, and ordered several modifications. In 1231 he promulgated the Constitutions of Melfi (Liber Augustalis) at the manor, code of laws of the Kingdom of Sicily. The structure was also a deposit for taxes collected in Basilicata and a prison for captives.

With the demise of the Staufer and the arrival of the Anjou (Angevin) rulers, Melfi castle underwent comprehensive renovations and expansions. In 1284 it became the official residence of Mary of Hungary, the wife of Charles II of Anjou. It was still subject to changes in the 16th century under the Aragon government and became the property of the noble Acciaioli family first, then of the Marzano, Caracciolo and finally, Doria dynasty, to which belonged until 1950. The castle had to undergo two violent earthquakes in 1851 and 1930 but, unlike the other Melfi monuments that were severely damaged, the castle came out almost unscathed.

Today, the building houses the National Archaeological Museum of Melfi, which opened in 1976.


The castle of Melfi, having witnessed several construction phases over time, has a multi-style architectural form, although it still looks purely medieval. It is composed of ten towers.

After crossing the bridge is visible a portal that contains an 18th-century inscription that honours the deeds of Emperor Charles V and his admiral Andrea Doria. Then entering the courtyard, it is possible to access the stables and the yards of the 'lairage' and 'the Mortorio', all Angevin works created between 1278 and 1281. Also in Angevin style are the 'Throne Room' (which houses the museum), built on the north side.



Your name


Via Normanni, Melfi, Italy
See all sites in Melfi


Founded: 11th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Italy

More Information


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Marko Popovac (8 months ago)
Amazing. Much more to see than expected. Entrance fee is not expensive! Castle is beautifull. Museum even more. Although, castle is under maintenance construction works, if you are close to Melfi, absolutely recommend to visit. Don't skip the museum.
Tomáš Gallschneider (2 years ago)
Melfi is beautiful city with small streets, large park with place for children, few restaurants, kind people and with magnificent castle, where is to see museum with artifacts from antic, relics from Greece mythology, jewelry and much more
Mariam Habbi (2 years ago)
I went to melfi for a school trip, it was very nice! The city is very beautiful and very clean, then we went to the castle of Frederick II where there are many tombs, including a child with toys, a woman with kitchen utensils and jewels and a man with some weapons
J Dunne (3 years ago)
It was ok, a little underwhelming. It has been extremely renovated due to an earthquake so the interior doesn't feel very castle like.
Łukasz Kołodziejczyk (7 years ago)
Great place definately worth visiting. Museum contains 5/6th century relics of local excavations - armor, weapons, ceramics, and many more. Open till 8 pm.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Church of St Donatus

The Church of St Donatus name refers to Donatus of Zadar, who began construction on this church in the 9th century and ended it on the northeastern part of the Roman forum. It is the largest Pre-Romanesque building in Croatia.

The beginning of the building of the church was placed to the second half of the 8th century, and it is supposed to have been completed in the 9th century. The Zadar bishop and diplomat Donat (8th and 9th centuries) is credited with the building of the church. He led the representations of the Dalmatian cities to Constantinople and Charles the Great, which is why this church bears slight resemblance to Charlemagne"s court chapels, especially the one in Aachen, and also to the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. It belongs to the Pre-Romanesque architectural period.

The circular church, formerly domed, is 27 m high and is characterised by simplicity and technical primitivism.