Minneburg was built some time in the 1200s, though its origin unknown. According to legend, the castle name was derived from a woman, Minna von Horneck by name, who was the love of Graf von Schwarzenberg who left on the Crusades. When he returned he found her on her deathbed and promised to build a castle in her honor.
The Bergfried, or main tower, as well as the palas were completed around 1300, situated on a prominent rock outcrop above the Neckar River. The shieldwall was built between 1518-1521 and was composed of two separate walls, of which the outer along the dry moat has mostly vanished. The first official mention of the castle appears to have been in 1339, with the early owner being Eberhardt Rudt von Collenberg, a scion of a Frankish noble family that owned and traded properties from the Rhein to the Neckar. As early as 1349, the castle was pawned to Ruprecht I Elector Palatinate, then later to Hofwart von Sickingen, and then later to the von Steinach family, only to once more settle into the possession of the Elector Palatinate in 1499.
By the early 1500s, the castle passed to Vogt Wilhelm von Harben, who extended the outer works of the castle and added some amenities such as running water. The family line died out around 1600, and the castle became a winery. Despite such a 'peaceful' purpose, the castle was still defended for the Protestant cause against the Catholic League troops of Count Tilly. Tilly besieged the castle in 1622, which soon surrendered after some significant damage when the walls were breached. Afterwards, the ruin was used as a quarry for the locals who pilfered the stones for their own building projects. Efforts to prevent futher deterioration of the ruin began in the late 1800s, but these were suspended for many years until the 1970s.References:
Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II.
As a leader of modern humanism, the Germanic Emperor brought scholars together in his court from throughout the Mediterranean, combining Eastern and Western traditions. The castle’s unique design, an octagonal plan with octagonal towers at each angle, represents a search for perfection. Interior features reflect Eastern influences, such as the innovative hydraulic installation used by Frederick II for bathing in accord to the typical Arabic customs.
The site is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.