Meant for defending the city of Bari, the Norman Swabian Castle today is the seat of the Superintendence for the Environmental, Architectural and Historical Heritage of Puglia.
A manor with a troubled life, protected by imposing walls and surrounded by a big moat. It was built by the Norman king Roger II, grandfather of the Swabian king Frederick II, it was partly destroyed in 1156 by the inhabitants of Bari themselves, who were fed up with struggles and rebellions against the Normans. It was renovated between 1233 and 1240 with new shapes which made it become more similar to a mansion than to an austere castle. In the towers there are windows, the stone is lighter, and the most evident change can be noticed in the vestibule characterized by high cross vaults, ornated by capitals different from each other: some of them represent figures of Islamic inspiration, one of them has got 10 lined up little heads with helms reminding to those of the Roman legionaries: others bear the signature of those  who had scuplted them.
In the 16th century the Castle reached its maximum splendour with Isabel of Aragon and her daughter Bona Sforza, because it became a Renaissance mansion with its lively and cultivated court.
The internal courtyard, as we can admire it today, with its double-winged sumptuous staircase, is the product of a renovation carried out at that time.
The plaster cast gallery of the Castle is worth visiting, if you want to admire the works of art of the region of Puglia, such as casts of ornamental scuplture used from the 11th to the 17th century.

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