Castel del Monte was built by Frederick II in about 1240. Because of his intelligence and learning Frederick was known as the “stupor mundi”, the wonder of the world. Some believe that the castle was built as a hunting residence but Frederick never visited it and it’s true purpose remains a mystery. The castle does not have the defences required to make it a fortress, neither does it have the basic amenities to make it a royal hunting lodge.
The castle is completely octagonal, having eight sides, eight rooms on each floor and eight octagonal towers. Strangely, even on the hottest of days, the interior of the castle remains chillingly cool.
The octagonal shape of the castle has given rise to all manner of interpretations, esoteric, astrological and geometric. Legends have linked it with, amongst others, the Knights Templar.
Each side is astronomically aligned to the rising and setting sun and to the seasonal equinoxes. It appears that the castle was designed in accordance with mathematical laws, a mysterious code dominated by the number 8. In the Middle Ages the number eight was the number of cosmic balance, the harmony between the physical world and the spiritual world.
The World Heritage Committee have judged the castle to be “A unique piece of medieval military architecture, Castel del Monte is a successful blend of elements from classical antiquity, the Islamic Orient and north European Cistercian Gothic”.