Castello Svevo di Trani
The Castello di Trani forms part of an impressive defensive system built on the orders of Frederick II of Swabia to protect the Kingdom of Sicily. It stands only a short distance from the famous Cathedral, strategically located surrounded by sea, in deep waters which have always provided an excellent natural defence against both the fury of the waves and enemy attacks.
The Castello di Trani was built on the model of the Crusader Castles in the Holy Land, in their turn strongly influenced by the Roman castrum, and is square in shape, reinforced in the corners by four square towers, all of the same height. In the 16C, with the advent of firearms, the Castle was brought up to date with modern defensive techniques, after which it underwent further adaptation in the 19C to allow its use as a prison. In the 1970s it was taken over the Ministry of Education, now the Ministry of culture, which has overseen its restoration and conversion for use as a museum.
The building has two monumental saloons dating from the time of Frederick II on the first floor. The central keep was subsequently expanded with the construction of bastions (square on the north-east and lanceolate on the south-west), connected to the outer walls, which enclose large secondary courtyards. The Renaissance blockhouse marks the boundary of the central courtyard.
A tour of the Castle, with its various interiors and courtyards, gives the visitor an insight into the historical sequence of construction/defensive techniques, which initially made it one of the most modern defensive strongholds of its time for the Swabian dynasty, followed by its Renaissance incarnation with the reinforcement of the southern side and the construction of the bastions, and ending with the 19C adaptations including the prisoners’ cells and the clock tower.
The Castle Museum, on the ground floor of the square bastion, contains stone and pottery items from the excavations carried out during the 20C restoration works.
The Castle's oldest marble inscription, dated 1233, on the gateway to the western courtyard. It commemorates the fortification works undertaken by Frederick II of Swabia.
Corbel showing Adam and Eve by the Tree of Knowledge, in the main courtyard, on the facade of the north wing.
Fragment of pottery
Fragment of primitive majolica pottery from the time of Frederick II from the excavations of midden number 2, decorated with the figure of a dancer.
piazza Manfredi, 16
Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities