The strategic location of Puglia has often made the region vulnerable to attacks by several civilizations from both the sea and the mainland. Over the centuries, all the emperors and families who have ruled this land have always fortified the region with the construction of towers, castles and military fortifications.
More than 100 imposing castles are scattered throughout the region, located in cities, countryside or rural areas that today are almost forgotten, each of them holds a piece of the long history of this land. Many have been restored and are home to permanent exhibitions and museums and cultural events. The most important are those built in the Norman-Swabian period, followed by those of the Angevin period and the most noble Baroque and Aragon era.
Our journey to discover these beautiful buildings starts from the northern part of the region; from the province of Foggia down to the Salento sub-region we’ll visit the most beautiful castles of Puglia.
Monte Sant’Angelo: the castle is located in the Gargano National Park and is characterized by different architectural styles, it was built by the Lombards and later expanded to Frederick II and the Aragons.
Manfredonia, Swabian Castle: Its construction began in 1260 with Manfredi of Sicily and was completed by Carlo I d’Angiò. It has been subjected to numerous and profound changes and today it retains a Swabian style. It houses the National Archaeological Museum of Manfredonia.
Torremaggiore, Ducal Castle: this castle has been declared a national monument. It was built around the original Norman tower and has four square towers and two round towers.
Lucera, Angevin-Swabian Castle: in 1223 Frederick II ordered the construction of an imperial palace and Carlo I d’Angiò added the defensive walls. The building had no access doors, temporary stairs were lowered from above to grant access into the castle.
Andria, Castel del Monte: The most important castle Puglia (It Has Been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996). Built by Frederick II it is the most characteristic of all the castles the emperor built. It has an octagonal plan with a 25 meters high tower at each corner.
Barletta, Swabian castle: built in 1233 on the ruins of a former Norman fortress it was later reinforced by Carlo I d’Angiò and the Aragons. Today it houses a museum, library and cultural events.
Trani, Swabian castle: The castle has a quadrangular plant and was built by Frederick II in 1233. It was house for the marriage of Manfredi, son of Frederick II. Today it hosts various events and in summer the reenactment of the marriage of Manfredi.
Bari Norman-Swabian Castle: built by Frederick II between 1233 and 1240 it is a symbol of the city and one of the finest fortifications in the region. It has a quadrangular plant, surrounded by a moat it can be accessed via a stone bridge. Venue and cultural exhibitions are hosted in the castle.
Monopoli: The first fortress was built by the Aragons, it was later renovated by the Spaniards, the present structure was commissioned by Spanish Charles V. Today it is privately owned and open to the public for cultural events.
Gioia del Colle: The castle was built around 1100 by the Norman Siniscalco. Later on in 1230 it was expanded by Frederick II who used it as a residence. It now houses the National Archaeological Museum.
Conversano, Norman-Swabian castle: it was built during the 11th century; it has a trapezoidal plant and four towers characterized by different shape: a circular, a polygon and two quadrangular.
Brindisi, Aragons Castle: this castle, also known as red castle due to the colour of the stone used for its construction, was built in 1481 by Ferdinando I of Aragon on the Island of St. Andrew as a defence for the city. The castle is owned by the Navy.
Brindisi, Swabian castle: it was built by Frederick II in 1227, expanded by Ferdinando I of Aragon in 1481 and further strengthened in 1550 by Charles V, who turned it into a prison.
Oria, Swabian castle: this beautiful fortress was built by Frederick II between 1225 and 1233, it has a triangular plant with three towers named Squared, Knight and Jump.
Ceglie Messapica, Ducal Castle: built during the 15th century around the 35 meters high Norman tower which dates back the 11th century.
Carovigno: The castle was built during the 15th century on the ruins of an ancient Norman fortress. It has a triangular-shaped plant with three towers protecting the three corners.
Francavilla Fontana, Imperiali castle: located in the heart of the old city centre this castle was built in 1450 by the Prince of Taranto, Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo; it was later modified in 1572 when it was bought by the Imperiali family from who also named it as Castello Imperiali. It has a rectangular plant and is entirely surrounded by a moat.
Mesagne: The castle was built in 1062 by Roberto il Guiscardo and renovated during the 15th century by Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo. It houses the Archaeological Museum Granafei.
Taranto, Aragon Castle: This beautiful castle was built in 1481 by Ferdinando of Aragon on the ruins of an old Norman-Swabian fortification. However the original construction dates back the Byzantine era. Since 1887 it is owned by the Navy.
Massafra: The castle has Norman origins (970 AD) but was expanded and strengthened during the 16th century by the family Pappacoda. It sits on a strategic position overlooking the ravine of San Marco, has a quadrangular plant and four towers.
Grottaglie, Bishop’s Castle: located beside the ceramic district, this castle was built during the 15th century by the Bishop of Taranto. For a long time it has been the symbol of imperial power in the whole area.
Pulsano, De Falconibus Castle: Built during the 15th century the castle is located in the historic city center, it has a quadrangular plant and five towers of different heights and bases.
Lecce, Castle of Carlo V: this castle was built in the heart of the city by Carlo V, between 1539 and 1548, on the ruins of an ancient Norman fortress. The castle keeps the original trapezoid plant, for long time it has being used as a military fortress and now houses important cultural events and exhibitions.
Gallipoli, Aragons Castle: This castle is located in the old city on the small island and is completely surrounded by sea. The current structure dates to the 13th century and has been rebuilt several times on previous Angevin, Byzantine and Norman ruins. It has a square plant with four corner towers.
Otranto, Aragons Castle: it was built and fortified by Ferdinando of Aragon between 1485 and 1489 following the attack from the Turks that Otranto suffered in 1481. It has a square plant with four corner towers and is open to the public.
Acaya: this splendid castle was built by Alfonso Acaya in 1506. In 1535 Gian Giacomo of Acaya incorporated it into what he believed had to be the “ideal city”. He also added the moat and a walkaway for guards along the higher part of the surronding defensive walls. It is now at the center of a major project aimed to revitalize the area.
Copertino: the castle is a massive building that was erected in 1540 by Evangelista Menga on the ruins of a Norman-Angiovin fortress. It was one of the most important defensive military structures in the whole area of Salento. To be admired are the chapel dedicated to Saint Marco and the main gateway in Renaissance style. The castle was declared a national monument in 1886.