Best Italian Medieval Castles

Castle-building in medieval Italy began largely thanks to the Normans who came to rule southern Italy during the 10th and 11th centuries. Many later medieval castles in Italy were simply renovations or expansions on the sites of these original Norman castles.

The Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, was a notable figure who played an important role in reviving many castles in Italy during the 13th century. He also built many new castles. Many of these medieval Italian castles are extant to this day.

Frederick II

Frederick II

Lucera Castle

Lucera Castle was built in southern Italy in 1233. It was commissioned by Frederick II who used the structure as an imperial palace for some time. The original structure mostly included residential architecture.

The castle later fell into the hands of Charles I of Anjou who used it as a military fortification. During Charles’ reign, the castle underwent significant expansion and many defensive structures were added to it, including a strong boundary wall. The castle suffered damage when a 15th-century earthquake demolished portions of it. As a result, only a part of the original structure of the castle stands today.

Castle of Melfi

The Castle of Melfi was originally constructed by the Normans in southern Italy during the 11th century. The castle remained an important site of ecclesiastical councils during the 11th and 12th centuries. Frederick II had a number of modifications made to the castle in the 12th century. The castle was further expanded and modified under the rulers of Anjou in the 16th century.

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Due to the various modifications and influences, the Castle of Melfi is an embodiment of many architectural styles. Most of the original structure of the castle is extant today and open to visitors.

Fenis Castle

Fenis Castle was originally constructed in 1242 in the town of Fenis. The original structure of the castle comprised of a simple keep and an enclosure surrounding it. Much of the extant structure of the castle was subsequently added in the 14th and 15th centuries.


Fenis Castle Italy

Fenis Castle Italy

These additions included a number of towers to secure the castle and many internal embellishments for residents. The internal embellishments include a large inner courtyard as well as a number of balconies and staircases. The castle served as the residence of the Challant family. Most of the castle’s architecture is extant today and is well-preserved.

Forte Spagnolo

Forte Spagnolo was originally built as a fortress in L’Aquila in the early 15th century. It was built on the behest of King Ladislaus and lay exactly in the region where the Spanish and French contested for supremacy.


When the region fell under Spanish rule in the 16th century, the castle was further expanded and fortified. The expansions of the castle were done at the expense of the nearby city, nearly impoverishing all resources and even using up the city bells.

Despite huge expenses, the castle’s structure was never completed on account of its extraordinary construction which included a 30-meter wall and four huge bastions. Most of the structure of the castle is extant today.

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