The Castle

The father The castle of San Marco Argentano dates back to the initial fortification built by the Normans from the mid-eleventh century, and it would then be put in relation with their conquest of southern Italy. The original Calabrian building is in fact generally traced back to the first castle generation of the Norman invaders, and in particular to the work of Robert Guiscard. Appointed Duke of Apulia and Calabria in 1059, the Guiscard began to arm “turribus et castellibus” the locations that he gradually subdued, as recalled in his chronicle Romualdo Salernitano. The motte over the Roman, Lombard or Byzantine buildings And in fact it was the Normans who spread in southern Italy – an area that the Chronicon Vulturnense by Monaco Giovanni (1100-1108) called the “rara castella” – a complex mesh of fortifications: being significantly lower than the local population, the Transalpine union was obliged to take precautions with the elevation of fortresses which, in the countryside or on the edge of towns, were needed to prevent attacks and to impose new power. Whether or not they were made ​​on previous Roman, Lombard or Byzantine forts, the shapes of the first castles were the classic ones experienced in Normandy, namely the typical “motte” and Donjons. The motta of San Marco, watchtower of the river Fullone and prison for Fredrick II And a proper motta was raised in San Marco Argentano on the remains of a Roman structure, with the canonical construction of a wooden fence that surrounded a mound made ​​of earth backfill and surmounted by a tower. Today’s cylindrical tower, commonly called “Norman tower”, was actually raised in the late-Swabian or proto-Angevin period (or even in the fourteenth century), while to the  Aragonese period belong both the square tower guarding the entrance and the ring wall that surrounds the core of the complex. The alterations and care in the preservation of the motta show anyway the strategic importance of the fortress of San Marco Argentano, which had to be not only a good lookout to control the valley of the river Fullone, but it could also ensure a tactical domain of one access to the Tyrrhenian Sea. In addition, the great tower was used by Frederick II as a prison, and then became property, in succession, of the Corsini, the Sanseverino and the Spinelli families. Even in the eighteenth century the motta was remodelled and used as a prison, despite the severe damage caused by an earthquake of considerable intensity. The great tower of San Marco Argentano Located at 496 meters above sea level, enclosed by a high stone wall, the imposing cylindrical great tower of San Marco Argentano is given from a height of 22 meters and a diameter of 14. At the height of the tower stand 66 stone corbels triangular in shape, while inside the building is divided into five levels, on which large circular rooms are deployed. Among the various environments develops a staircase of helical shape, which allows the interconnection. On top of such a hill stood a tower, usually square and mostly made ​​of wood: it was used for the control of the territory, and as well as an armed garrison it could hold, on the first floor, some living space, and on the ground floor storage and pantry. Reached through a little mobile bridge, which connected the apex of the small castle to the lower court, an open space often circular, surrounded by a fence that thronged the buildings useful to the rural community: the classroom for administrative tasks, the chapel for worship, the homes of the villagers, the hayloft, the barn and the various workshops. From wood to stone, technologies to oppose the enemies The motte, typical turreted mounds, were as comfortable to set up as they were easy to pave and clear: the fire could actually eat in the blink of an eye everything, while the siege machines became every day more sophisticated and effective. So, to raise forts they started to look with greater insistence at models made ​​of stone. That’s why the castle of San Marco Argentano was coated over the centuries with a more solid stone equipment, that to the large central tower added, in the Aragonese period, a ring of walls and a tower that presides over the entrance. Source: