Puglia, aka Apulia, is an Italian region on the toe of the Adriatic Sea, and it’s become something of a hot travel destination in recent years. It’s home to a stunning coastline, lots of historic tourist spots, and a lot of charming towns and villages.
And there’s more: Puglia is full of medieval castles. Join us as we embark to explore the best castles in Puglia that you should not miss on your holiday.
1. Castel del Monte
The Castel del Monte has a relatively small size and was a curtain wall that served as a citadel. Initially, locals thought it was just a hunting lodge. Fredrick II, the King of Sicily and the Holy Roman Empire built it and later used it as his residence and seat of power.
Castel del Monte is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. The castle is now a popular destination for tourists. William II of Sicily built the first castle on the site in 1078. It consists of two distinct parts: the motte and its bailey, both now within the modern town. The motte is surmounted by an octagonal tower, while the bailey contains the remains of walls, including three city gates.
This castle was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
2. The Castle of Trani
Called Castello di Trani in Italian, Fredrick II of Swabia built this castle to protect the Kingdom of Sicily. He inherited the kingdom from his mother. At the site, they sell audio guides, which help tell the castle’s history.
It is open to the public after a complete restoration. However, much of it has been converted into exhibitions and offices and may have a modern feel. The entrance fee is five euros, and you can get presentations in various languages as you view archaeological exhibits.
Wondering about getting around in Puglia? Check out our article on the topic! The full guide to getting around in Puglia!
3. Castello di Bovino
The Castello di Bovino is a castle on the side of a mountain in Puglia, dating back to around the 15th century and hosting various priceless relics.
It appears like a small fortress with some imposing defensive towers from the outside. But inside, it’s quite different: there are no defensive walls; instead, there is an inner courtyard lined with houses, shops, and restaurants.
In case you want to visit the castle in Bovino then don’t forget to check out our full guide to Bovino in Puglia.
4. Castello Monaci
The Castello Monaci is an excellent location for events and weddings. The staff at the venue are accommodating- they don’t tire of lending a hand. The event’s setup is incredible, with elegant décor and quality food and service.
Refined location for weddings and events in Salento. Celebration of marriage with a civil ceremony. Small events, gala dinners, and wine tours. The rooms are beautifully furnished, very spacious, and have views of the well-manicured gardens for lodging. You may also experience a very informative wine tour while at this venue.
5. Castello Normanno Svevo di Mesagne
The Norman Swabian castle is a must-see attraction if you ever find yourself in Italy. It is in the middle of Mesagne, a historical center. Most of the archaeological finds in the castle’s six rooms open to the public include the Bronze age, the Roman age, and medieval pottery. You also view tombstones, finds from private donations, and Messapian and Latin epigraphs.
6. Castello Oria
Emperor Fredrick II built this castle, and it is where he celebrated his wedding with Jolanda de Brienne. It is on a hilltop in Oria, between Taranto and Brindisi provinces. It is maintained while preserving the architectural detail of its history.
The furnishings enhance the splendor in the castle’s noble rooms, making it a suitable environment for various meetings. Its towers and walls are open for view by the public.
7. Castello Federiciano di Brindisi
This fascinating historical castle is currently closed to the public and is for exclusive use by the navy. The tourist information states that you can only visit the place from the Italian army. If not enlisted, you can only view it from outside.
This castle is, therefore, an excellent destination for military people. It has a theatre that displays a video of the castle’s history in various languages. You also get to see continuing archaeological digging in the castle and an exhibition of finds.
8. Castello Carlo V
Charles V extended this castle in the early 1500s and is also called Castello di Lecce. The Normans initially built it in the 1200s. You take about five to ten minutes touring the Castello Carlo V. The entrance leads you to the archaeological dig in the inner courtyard. Finally, you view the rear yard under restoration and the exit through the back door.
The entrance fee to Castello Carlo V is ten euros per head. It is a great destination to visit if you are interested in architecture, as it does not have furniture or décor.
9. Castello Svevo di Bari
Castello Svevo di Bari is the symbol of Bari and its outskirts. The beautiful castle is on a steep promontory of an ancient hill, surrounded by a very extensive garden, with splendid views over the sea. Near it is the Cathedral dedicated to Saint Nicholas.
Its most recent restoration was completed in 2017, and the whole of the first floor is open to the public.
The three main rooms host displays:
Aragonese room: Shows photographs depicting the story of the castle’s restoration over the 20th century. This exhibition is permanent.
Angoina room: The archaeological pottery collection in the Angoina room dates from the 15th to 18th centuries. Excavation of the castle’s midden provided this collection.
Norman Room: Has stone items that are not related.
Another small room hosts precious items like jewelry, while the rest host temporary exhibitions.
10. Castello Aragonese
The Materra family runs these ancient ruins and has maintained them very well. A visit to this castle takes about two to three hours. Upon arrival, you get a brochure and guidebook that has a brief description of each castle site.
Most of the sites are outdoors, so it is best to arrive early to avoid the outdoor heat. There is a convent crypt, chapels, churches, gardens, coffee chambers, a coffee restaurant, and great views. The entrance fee is 12 euros. This castle is tranquil, with amazing views where you can take pictures.
You get the option of walking up to the castle, which is like climbing or using a lift. On an adventurous day, walking will expose you to incredible views of the castle’s surroundings. These include Procida Island’s Vivara Natural Reserve and the ancient Bridge of Ischia.
Living History in Puglia
With many of the castles in Puglia in pristine condition, this region of Italy is perfect for exploring what medieval life was like. We always mention that Puglia is somewhat ‘old’ in feeling. The region has an extremely charming and ancient atmosphere.
We hope that this list will help you discover the best of the best when it comes to the castles in Puglia. They are definitely worth your time when you travel to southern Italy.
List of the top 10 castles in Puglia:
- Castel del Monte
- The Castle of Trani
- Castello di Bovino
- Castello Monaci
- Castello Normanno Svevo di Mesagne
- Castello Oria
- Castello Federiciano di Brindisi
- Castello Carlo V
- Castello svevo di Bari
- Castello Aragonese