The Greeks, Byzantines and Turks dominated these areas at different times throughout history.
Federico II made this region his empire, and the Aragonese powers made this a part of The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. These powers left their trace, building majestic and charming castles, and hunting manor houses. Brindisi alone, provincial capital of the province of Brindisi (the province where Masseria Montenapoleone resides) has two castles. The first is the Alfonsino castle – known as the Red Castle, with its particular tufa stone colour used in its construction, which gave it its name – which was founded by Alfonso D’Aragona in XV century. The second is the Svevo Castle, which is even more majestic, and was built on request of Federico II in 1200 in order to defend the city, which was an important trading port.
Taranto has Castel Sant’Angelo, which stands out on the farthest point of the little peninsula where the ancient city lies, which was then modified in the 1500’s under Spanish rule. Before heading north, it is worth visiting the Castle in Oria, built on an ancient messapican acropolis. During Federico II di Svevia’s rule, the castle of Gioia del Colle, in Bari province, was also built. The fortification was built on top of an existing Byzantine construction, perfectly absorbed by the urban town, spotted only whilst passing along the towns’ roads.
Conversano, according to an ancient legend, was dominated by a count by the name of Guercio d Puglia (which we recommend you learn a little more about) – here there is another castle, with an enormous cylindrical tower. Since its restoration, the castle hosts an art exhibition by a Neopolitan artist called Paolo Domenico Finoglio dating back to the 1600’s, including a large canvas depicting episodes of Jerusalem Delivered. We then arrive in Bari: the regional capital dominated by a Norman-Svevian castle, which is one of the most majestic in the region, with a monumental portal where the moat is still visible.
Bari deserves a longer visit, with its fascinating old city, and Basilica with the relics of Saint Nicolas, its walks amongst exclusive palazzi in the Murattiano neighbourhood, with elegant fashion shops such as Armani and Gucci. Going further north, the city of Trani is worth a visit before reaching Castel del Monte, elected Unesco World Heritage
Site in 1996. This mysterious octagonal jewel was commissioned by Federico II in Murgia, and, along with the Templars, the Grail and the pyramids, and has been studied by those with a passion for esoteric literature over the years. Its function, with its very unique architecture, still today remains an enigma.