The Castle

The vessel that swims in the air The castle of Oria, built from 1221 by order of Frederick II, has the shape of an isosceles triangle with base in the south and the vertex in the north. Three towers rise in the southern wall: the “square” tower also known as “of the male” or “of the beak “, the tower “of the knight “, raised probably with the function of revenge and protection at the entrance, and the” tower of the jump” built for necessity of control on the eastern side. At the vertex stands the tower “of the spur”, similar to the bow of a ship, hence the nickname “the vessel that swims in the air”. The gigantic stone jewel for Yolanda of Jerusalem The old manor – also known as the “giant stone jewel” – was designed by Frederick perhaps when he dwelt in the city to await the bride Yolanda of Jerusalem. The area on which it stands, previously occupied by a Norman tower block and the Theodosian cathedral , was requisitioned by the emperor who in return granted to Bishop Peregrino I the Hill of Vaglio and the tithes for the construction of the new temple. Castrum Horye reparari debet In 1241 the statute about the castle restoration, drafted by the provisores castrorum, prescribed that the castle of Oria ” reparari debet ” (needs restoration), not “reparari potest” (can be restored), showing how important it was thought to be; the cost for the restoration, however, were to be provided by local citizens.   Nine centuries of illustrious guests   Cornerstone of the Salentinian fortifications, in its nine centuries of life it was resting place for kings, princes and knights crusaders, dwelling for barons and marquises., Among others, stayed there Maria d’Enghien and Ladislas, King of Naples; Isabella di Chiaromonte, Ferrante of Aragon and Alfonso of Aragon; in more recent times, the Royals of Italy have passed by, some Princes of the House of Savoy and Princess Margareth of England. It had distinguished visitors like the Emperor of Germany, Wilhelm II, the Mommsen, Gregorovious, the Bourget and Cardinal Tiserant.   Five thousand soldiers in the square of the arms   In its inside, a large courtyard 3900 square feet wide, called “square of the arms “, could hold up to 5,000 soldiers. On its west side are lined up the accomodations for the Lord and for the Castellan, the storehouse for food, the barracks for soldiers. Taking the staircase that wraps around the Tower of the Knight, you get inside of the visible wing. The entrance hall with a groin vault houses a precious collection of Greco-Roman and Messapic antiquities, all locally sourced. Through it you access the inside of the Great Tower whose architecture, apart from the lithic grating of the windows, is entirely attributable to the 13th century. At the foot of the ” tower of the jump” is the ancient crypt of Saints Crisante and Daria, first protectors of the city. There are the ruins of the hypogean church built around the middle of the ‘800 by Bishop Theodosius.   Damage and restoration   Little remains today of the Norman plan and of the Frederician construction: over the centuries, the castle has undergone several damages and restorations. The first damage is attributable to Manfred who in 1254 opposed to the anti-Swabian league captained by Tommaso d’Oria, while in 1433 it was General Caldora who put the city on fire, including the castle. Seven years later, however, Prince Giovanni Orsini restored it on the occasion of his niece’s wedding Isabella of Chiaromonte with Ferdinand of Aragon. In 1504 General Pietro de Pace, pawn in the clashbetween the French and the Spaniards, attacked it with its 12,500 soldiers and 20 artillery pieces.   Noble and religious owners   In the following centuries it passed from the Borromeos to the tax office, before being purchased in 1825 by the Abbess of the Benedictine nuns. In 1866, following the abolition of the religious orders, it went to the municipality that in 1933 ceded it to the Martini-Carissimo family, current owner of the Castle.   Sources: “La via dei canti” by Angelo Lucano Larotonda