Bari is the main city of Puglia in southern Italy, with an ancient heart dominated by several grand churches – including the pilgrimage Basilica di San Nicola – as well as the fortified ramparts of Castello Normanno-Svevo. This castle has its origins in 1132, when it was constructed by the Norman conquerors of Bari to keep its citizens in check. It was subsequently destroyed 22 years later during a skirmish with Sicily, only to be rebuilt and much extended in 1233 by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II; its thick, fortified walls and moat were added in the 16th century when the castle became a private residence.
During its long life, the waterfront castle has changed hands within several aristocratic Italian families and has been utilized variously as a prison and an army barracks. Today the tranquil courtyard and the vaulted halls of the castle hold a more peaceful role as the Gipsoteca, a museum of sculptural remnants and plaster casts of treasures found in most important monuments of Barrivecchia, the centro storico of Bari. These form part of a multimedia exhibition on the history of both the city and its castle.
Castello Normanno-Svevo is located at Piazza Federico II di Svevia 4. It is open Thursday through Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and admission costs €3.