The medieval fortification dates back to 1132. The castle was built at the behest of the Norman King Roger II, and was destroyed in 1156 by King William of Sicily, nicknamed the Bad, when he razed the entire city to the ground, except for some places of worship. The fortress was rebuilt in 1233, when the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II ordered its reinforcement.
The castle underwent numerous transformations in the Angevin period, when Charles of Anjou carried out an extensive restoration involving the north wing of the castle, under the guidance of the architects Pietro d’Angicourt and Giovanni di Toul.
Then, the castle became property of Duke Ferdinand of Aragon, who donated it later to the ducal Sforza family. The latter disposed the enlargement of the fortress, which shortly after passed into the hands of Bona Sforza, Queen of Poland, who died there in 1557. During this time, the castle underwent radical transformations to adapt to the new demands dictated by the development of heavy artillery.
Later, the building returned to the Kingdom of Naples, and was used as a prison and barracks.
Today, the castle is surrounded by the ancient moat, which runs along three sides, with the exception of the northern wall, once bathed by the sea. Beyond the moat, there is the defense belt, from the Aragonese period, equipped with large spear-shaped bastions.
The castle can be accessed from the south side, crossing the bridge over the moat and entering the courtyard. From the portal, you enter the vestibule, covered by cross vaults set on columns and pilasters surmounted by capitals. The entrance hall extends into a loggia overlooking the central courtyard. The capitals of the columns that support the loggia are decorated with a series of eagles.
On the upper floor, there is a splendid hall, the Angioina Room, with three mullioned windows overlooking the sea, later enriched with frescoes, almost completely lost today.
HOW TO GET THERE
The castle is located in Piazza Federico II di Svevia, about 1.3 kilometers away from the Bari Centrale train station. To find the castle on foot, use the map below.