Castel del Monte, with its unique octagonal shape, is the most famous of the Swabian fortresses constructed by Frederick II in Puglia. It stands atop an isolated hill from where there is a 360 degree of the countryside and coast. Conversely, the castle can also be seen from a great distance away. Built of soft limestone, the castle has an unusual octagonal design with eight octagonal towers. Two internal floors each have eight rooms and the interior courtyard also reflects the octagonal shape of the exterior. The architecture reflects a unique blend of elements from classical antiquity, northern European Gothic, and Islamic architectural styles.
Construction on the castle began in the early 13th century. Shortly after its construction the castle was turned into a prison. It was later abandoned and finally bought by the Italian government in 1876. Today the castle has been restored for visits and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can see a small image of Castel del Monte on Italy’s one cent coins.
Another good example of the Swabian castles built by Frederick II is the Trani Castle.