The uncertain foundation Located on a spur of the Gargano at 545 meters above sea level, south-west of the Gargano promontory in the municipality of Apricena, Castel Pagano, of which there are few ruins left, was part of a village whose origin is uncertain. The epoch of the foundation of this fortress is uncertain, it is thought to be even before the construction of Apricena, so in the second half of the ninth century. Already flourishing in the eleventh century under the rule of the Norman Count Henry and although impregnable due to the nature of the place, in 1137 the castle fell into the hands of Lothair III. The mark of Frederick II Frederick II, who resided in the nearby Apricena, restored and adjusted it to his hunting amusements and installed there a garrison of trustworthy Saracens, hence the name Castel Pagano as non-Christians were called pagans. Then the village was a fief of Manfred, son of Frederick II and founder of Manfredonia, and was later donated to the King for royal right.
Subsequent owners In 1496, Ferdinand gave it to Ettore Pappacoda of Naples, who gave splendor to the whole area and building the Sanctuary of Stignano in 1515; when the family died out, he returned to the royal land administration. On March 10th, 1580 Antonio Brancia, from whom takes its name the location below, bought it from Philip II for 90 thousand ducats. In 1732 it belonged to the Mormiles, then it was bought by Don Garzia di Toledo, and, in 1768, from him by the Prince Cattaneo of Sannicandro. What remains Surely it was subject to several earthquakes, testified by documents in which is told the story of 1627 when Apricena and surroundings suffered tremendous damage. Currently the ruins consist of a wall along about fifty meters and high no more than a meter and a half with two openings that were two door with worked jambs. This wall makes a corner on the left with very brief factory remains and on the right it is linked to a circular tower, which currently does not exceed five meters. From this tower starts a continuous wall slightly battered overlooking the valley below. A third wall closes the quadrangle to the south. In a corner stands the main tower with five sides six or seven meters high. Within the quadrilateral you can see traces of walls, but not enough to make us understand the internal structure of the castle. The abandonment The village was gradually abandoned at the beginning of the seventeenth century because of the move of the inhabitants to Apricena, probably because of the great scarcity of water and then the complex was subject to looting of local pastors who took the stones of the structure to build their shelters in the Sant’Anna valley below. Sources: wikipedia Felice Clima (stupormundi.it) provincia.foggia.it Ludovico Centola – La Valle degli Eremi