Castel del Monte is awesome and its geometric design was unique. It lies in the comune of Andria, built on top of a hill where you can see a good part of the Puglia region, and the cities of the coast with a beautiful landscape. Shaped as an octagonal prism with an octagonal tower at each corner, the castle is described by the Enciclopedia Italiana as "the most fascinating castle built by Frederick II", and the site is protected as a World Heritage Site. It also appears on the Italian version of the one-cent euro coin.
Guided visits to the castle starts at 10:15 AM and I do suggest that arrive early in the day with a pro loco guide. There are many external guides available ranging from 1.5 hours to 2.0 hours visits which will cost around US$20 or more. Usually, such guided visits do NOT include the entrance ticket, shuttle bus service and parking ticket. Secondo me (in my opinion), a visit with the pro loco guide is much more affordable and equally good (if not better). For more information about the castle, ticket prices and how to reach, please go to Associazione Turistica Pro Loco Andria website at http://www.proloco.andria.ba.it/eng/casteldelmonte.php.
My total cost for the one-hour visit is €15, which comprised of the entrance ticket of €10 and contribution to the guide of €5. For the contribution, you can choose to pay any amount you like. After the guided tour, you are free to roam around. If you choose not to have a guide right from the beginning, that is OK too (but I strongly suggest you opt for a guide because without one, you won't be able to enjoy the significance of the castle). All photos in this post is taken using my iPhone5.
|This was our pro loco guide. Maria Zingaro speaks English but I joined the Italian session which was about one hour. Please feel free to contact her at +39 347 6939234 when you're planning a visit to Castel del Monte. She's great!|
|Do take note of the mini trulli (plural for trullo) on the ground!|
|The magnificent Castel del Monte, ladies and gentlemen!|
And for now, let's take a look of some of snapshots inside the castle... It was later turned into a prison, used as a refuge during a plague, and finally fell into disrepair. It originally had marble walls and columns, but were stripped by vandals or re-used in constructions nearby. What a pity! Apparently vandalism is quite common in historical sites in Italy.
|This is how the ancient toilet looks like. To do your business, you sit on right side where the arch is...|
|Some of the remaining original marble panels in the castle.|
|This looks like a face that is surprised!|
|Walking down the very narrow staircases; probably not good for people who are claustrophobic...|
|Every time you will pass through a small window while scaling the stairs.|
|Our pro loco guide explaining details of the various parts of the castle and their significance.|
WIKIPEDIA: More about the Castel del Monte here.
WIKIPEDIA: In Italy, Pro Loco (the term is both singular and plural) are grass-roots organizations that seek to promote some particular place, almost always a town and its immediate area; pro loco is a Latin phrase that may be roughly translated "in favor of the place". Usually the town is a full-fledged comune, but not always: frazioni and other small places with a high level of civic pride may have their own Pro Loco. [More details here]
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