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The Castle

An ancient and strategic site It was the 1221 when Frederick II visited for the first time the hill on top of which his castle would be built. An ancient site in which traces from different eras are still visible, from the Neolithic huts to the ruins of the Roman Acropolis, up to the ruins of a Church; a strategic location, isolated and centrally located between the Gargano, the Tavoliere, and the Daunia Sub-Apennine. The northern outpost The puer Apuliae became convinced of the need to build a fortress there, which would become the northern outpost of the Swabian castle system in Apulia. However, several years passed before his plan could be accomplished: we must wait the 1233, when Frederick, returning from a crusade, found the time and money required to start work. The old palatium Placed on top of a hill, of the Frederician Palatium with pyramidal base only fragments remain, buried in the North-East. The castle was built around a central square courtyard which, at the third floor level, was instead of octagonal shape. The four residential wings, which constituted the main body of the complex, amounted to three floors. Some lateral towers completed the building, which had no ground floor entrances probably replaced by a system of external escalators. Smoke, fire and flag signals Once a luxurious imperial residence and menacing fortified building, the castle of Lucera was inserted into the important visual communication network set up between one castle and the other to guard the Apulian coasts: by day it availed itself of codified smoke signals and of flag-wavers, while in the darkness of the night fire signals were launched. Oriental ostentation The emperor wanted to give great artistic splendour to his palatium furnishing the thirty-two rooms with refinement and ostentation: gold, silver, precious stones but also many statues imported from the East made the castle of Lucera the most similar to an oriental palace. Saracen maidens And, like a highly respectable oriental palace, the palatium had his Muslim staff and most importantly a pavilion where many Saracen girls lived, which the gossips and the Pope himself associate to a harem. The harem and zoo entourage The Saracens, along with many animals owned by Frederick II – eagles, barn owls, dogs, hawks, owls, bears, peacocks, buzzards, India’s white aras, rare Syrian  doves,  African ostrich, lions, leopards, lynxes, panthers, monkeys, an elephant and a giraffe – followed him in his constant transfers showing everywhere his magnificence. The Emperor’s clothes When not travelling with him, the Saracen girls were busy in yarn spinning works, preparing for their Lord court and war robes and gualdrappas for his animals. Treasures and fairs The castle of Lucera at the times of the Swabian played also an important economic role: it kept a part of the State Treasury, in the fenced area it hosted a building for one of the Imperial mints and around it one of the most important fairs of the Kingdom took place annually. The House of Science According to an Arab source, Frederick II had undertaken the building of a House of Science inside, the “Dar al-’ ilm”, a sort of cultural foundation open to the scholars of the time. The lioness and the lion of the Angevin citadel With the Angevins the fortress was transformed into a full-fledged autonomous military citadel, becoming a repository of various weapons; the 900 metres-long walls were built, reinforced by 22 towers and made inaccessible by a deep moat at whose ends are the Tower of the Lioness and the Tower of the Lion.

The abandonment Damaged by an earthquake in the 15th century, the Frederician palace was used in the 18th century as a quarry for the construction of the courthouse. Ruined by time and neglect, plundered for centuries to turn it into building material, little remains of the splendour of yesteryear, when the Swabian came here to find peace and serenity and to compose poetry. Sources: “La via dei canti” by Angelo Lucano Larotonda www.treccani.it

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The History

«Grana dat et vina; urbs opulenta Gravina… hortus deliciarum… » (Federico II di Svevia) Born from the earth, it offers its fruits The name “Gravina” comes from the ravine splits of the earth crust similar to canyons. On the motto printed on the city banner there is written “Grana dat et vina” (trans. “offers grain and wine”), attributed to the city by Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire, who loved the city so much to call it “garden of delights” and to build here a castle, of which today only the ruins remain, which had the function to host him and his men, before and after the hunts which took place in the Murgia territory. The first settlements Because of its strategic location from a geographical point of view, its territory was inhabited since the old Paleolithic era, while the oldest and most consistent remains date back to the Neolithic era, around 5950 BC. Silvium Between the 8th and 4th century Gravina relates to the Greek world, it surrounds itself with walls and has its own currency. It was conquered by the Romans in 305 BC, who called it ‘Silvium’, and becomes a commercial and agricultural centre, considering the adjacent via Appia. Gravina was polis with right to mint coins (Sidinon) at the time of Alexander the Molossian. After the third Samnite war (305 BC) it was a Roman municipium and an economic-political centre of great importance. It had a major commercial role, in fact it was a land coveted by many Byzantine, Lombard, Norman, barbarian, Muslim conquerors. The descent of the Vandals In 456 it was destroyed by vandals and the inhabitants took refuge in the caves of the Gravina stream, giving birth to the Rock Civilization. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire the South of Italy and Gravina in Apulia were under Byzantine jurisdiction until the advent of the Norman Altavilla. The park for bird trapping Frederick II with Gilberto d’Aigle put it in charge of the Giustizierato of the Terra di Bari, placing it in the foreground among the towns of Apulia for its riches and natural beauty. There he built through the architect Fuccio a walled Park for bird trapping and on the top of the hill he raised a Romanesque castle, a sumptuous court palace. The free city The city of Gravina had to make a good impression to the Swabian King, who would certainly visit it for at least three more times: in 1227, on the occasion of the granting of a privilege in favour of Ramberto Ravaschieri, count of Lavagna; in 1234, when he destined Gravina to be seat of the General Curia of Apulia, Basilicata and Capitanata, presided over by an imperial vicar, an executioner and four appeal board members (including two clerics), responsible for dealing with cases involving the alleged abuses committed by imperial officials; and in 1241, the year in which a privilege was granted to Gravina by a certain Giovanni of Sorrento. These concessions were in the complex of friderician libertates, a series of imperial recognitions of certain rights of exemption and immunity the Gravina subjects had enjoyed for a long time, deserving the title of “uomini franchi”, i.e. free men, as reported by the sources; among them, the exemption from the royal terratico (land tax, ndt.) and other taxes in favour of home, vineyard and land owners, and of the feudal terratico in favour of soldiers, judges, notaries and canons of the Cathedral Church, while all the other subjects were only required to pay the semenzatico (seed tax, ndt.). The Angevins, the Templars and  at last the Orsini From 1267 to 1380 it was feud of the Angevins. In this same period Gravina in Apulia became a feudal and state city. In the 13th century the monks of chivalric orders arrived: the Templars and Gerosolomitani Knights, who were the owners of homes and lands of great extension. In the 14th century the Orisinis of Rome became feudatories, later, in succession, the descendants of the Del Balzo and Anguillara, from Taranto and Solofra. Francesco Orsini, prefect of Rome, elevated the fief of Gravina in Apulia to Duchy. Martyr for the homeland Protagonist of the historical events of the late ‘ 800 and early ‘ 900, it contributed to the unification of Italy with patriots and martyrs of the independence wars and World War I. The city was partly damaged by German aircraft bombing during the Second World War. The oldest fair In the town of Gravina takes place the fair of San Giorgo, which repeats itself every year in April, since 1294; it is one of the oldest fairs in Italy and all over the world: in 2010 it has come to the 716th edition.

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Accommodation & Restaurants

ACCOMMODATION LA CAVALLERIZZA **** SP Gravina / Matera GRAVINA TEL: 080 3252106 AGRITURISMI LO CUOCCIO SP GRAVINA – DOLCECANTO KM.6 GRAVINA Tel: 080 3250807 SANT’ANGELO C.DA SANT’ANGELO GRAVINA TEL: 080326425 MASTROCACCIA C.da San Felice GRAVINA DI PUGLIA TEL: 348 4410019 B&B D’ECLESIIS CINZIA ALOISA C.DAPAVONE GRAVINA GIAMMARRUSTI LUIGI VIA V. VENETO, 5 GRAVINA CHIEFA GIUSEPPE VIA A. D’ALES, 11 GRAVINA RESTAURANTS OSTERIA CUCCO Piazza Pellicciari, 4 – 70024 Gravina in Puglia [BA] “LE MURICI” SP per Corato km.4,800 – 70024 Gravina in Puglia [BA] TRATTORIA – ALBERGO ZIA ROSA via Marconi, 18 – 70024 Gravina in Puglia [BA]

THE WONDERFUL CASTELS IN BASILICATA - PUGLIA - CALABRIA - SICILIA

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