It is not known exactly when the Tiefburg castle was built or by whom. It is assumed that it was built in the 12th century, possibly by the Abbey of Lorsch or the Count Palatinates of the Rhine (later known as the Prince Electors of the Palatinate), who set up residence in nearby Heidelberg around this time. It is also possible that the castle had its origins in a fortiied estate. The knights of Handschuhsheim who lived in the Tiefburg were initially unfree knights, known as ministeriales, in the service of the Abbey of Lorsch, and later on vassals of the Prince Electors of the Palatinate. The dynasty died out when the last knight of Handschuhsheim, Johannes (Hans) V., died aged 16 on 31st December 1600 from injuries sustained in a duel. Through inheritance, the Tiefburg became the property of the barons of Helmstatt (who became counts of Helmstatt in the 18th century).
Tiefburg was badly damaged in the Thirty Years‘ War. In 1689 it fell victim to the War of the Palatine Succession and became uninhabitable, whereupon the Helmstatts built a new residence in the immediate vicinity. The original gate of this new residence can still be seen to the east of the square in front of the Tiefburg. Count Raban von Helmstatt had the Tiefburg restored in the years 1910 to 1913.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.