Most of the earliest Italian castles were built by rulers in the 10th and 11th centuries.
Subsequent castles were usually expansions and modifications of these original structures.
Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, played a crucial role in renovating, consolidating and expanding these pre-existing castles during his reign in the 13th century.
Although some castles were damaged in 15th century earthquakes, most of them are still extant today.
Castle del Monte is located in Anduria in southeast Italy. It was originally constructed in the 13th century by Frederick II.
Although made with marble walls and columns, the castle isn’t very spacious on the inside.
The original structure of the castle was apparently abandoned before it was completed, and Frederick II never made any use of it.
It was already being used as a prison towards the end of the 13th century.
By the 17th century, the castle had been abandoned and its structure stripped of stones and marble.
It underwent restoration and preservation in the 20th century and is a prominent site of Italian heritage.
The Lucera castle is located in southern Italy.
It was originally constructed in 1233, commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II.
The original structure was used as an imperial palace by Frederick II.
Significant modifications to this structure were made by Charles I of Anjou who used the structure as a military garrison.
Charles I added a solid enclosure wall to fortify the complex.
In the 15th century, a major portion of the castle was damaged in an earthquake.
It underwent further ruin and decline until restoration work began in the 19th century.
Only parts of the original structure remain today and are open to tourists.
The Copertino castle is located in southern Italy.
The original structure of the castle was constructed by the Norman rulers.
Major modifications were made during the 16th century when Alfonso Castriota.
These modifications were done with an aim of guarding the structure against gunpowder-using weapons, and included a large ditch and bastions.
Most of the castle’s structure is well-preserved today and is open to tourists.
The castle of Melfi is located in Southern Italy and is one of the most historically significant extant castles in the country.
It was originally built by Normans in the 11th century at a strategically important site.
It was later the scene many prominent Pope councils.
In the 12th century, Fredrick II took a keen interest in the castle and had a number of modifications made to the original structure.
It went through more modifications under the Anjou rulers and later under Aragon rulers in the 16th century.
The castle is today home to a museum and most of its structure is well preserved.
Castello Normanno-Svevo is located in the city of Bari.
It was originally built by the Norman King Roger II in 1132 but soon underwent significant destruction at the hands of William I of Sicily.
In the 13th century, the original structure was reconstructed with numerous modifications under the reign of Frederick II.
The castle has a moat on three sides and sea on the fourth side.
It passed to the hands of Duke Ferdinand of Aragon, later becoming the property of Queen of Poland and later still, of the King of Naples.
Today, it is used for cultural exhibitions.
The Saint-Pierre castle is located in Aosta Valley in Italy.
The original structure of the castle was built in the 12th century and comprised of a boundary wall and two towers.
The castle didn’t assume its grand outlook until the 17th century when the House of Roncas significantly expanded it and turned it into a fortified complex.
The castle was renovated in the 19th century and became state property in the 20th century.
Today, the castle is the site of a museum.
Fenis castle is located in the town of Fenis and is known for the brilliance of its architecture.
The castle was originally built in 1242 and the first structure included a simple keep and enclosure.
Most of its modern-day structure was built in the 14th and 15th centuries, comprising of a number of towers, staircases, balconies, a sizable inner courtyard and huge boundary walls.
Although well fortified, the castle was meant to serve as the residence of the Challant family and not for military purposes.
Most of the original structure is extant today and the castle is home to a museum.
The Rocca Calascio castle is located in Abruzzo and is situated at a height of 4790 feet.
The castle was originally built as a watchtower in the 10th century.
In the 13th century, the original structure was expanded to include four cylindrical towers connecting a walled boundary and an inner courtyard.
The notable feature of the castle’s structure is the use of large stones near the foundations and smaller stones at the top, presumably in order to thwart attacks on its walls.
The castle was abandoned in 15th century after an earthquake extensively damaged it. Much of the original structure still stands today.
Forte Spagnolo is a castle located in L’Aquila.
The original structure of the fortress was built in 1401 by King Ladislaus, as part of the feud for control of Aquila between France and Spain.
After the Spanish were able to conquer Aquila in the 16th century, Spanish Viceroy had the original structure of the fortress expanded with numerous modifications keeping in view defense against gunpowder weapons.
The construction of the fortress was a very costly affair and on account of its construction costs, it was never completed.
The extensive plan of the fortress includes four huge bastions connecting walls 30 meters thick at the bottom.
The city’s bells were melted to make cannons for the fortress, a whole nearby hill was razed to furnish the white stone for it and the silver case containing the body of St. Bernardino of Siena was melted to cover the costs of construction.