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Octagonal castle of Frederick II oozes mystery

Susan Spano
At Castel del Monte, the stage is set for tragedy or black magic. Clouds scuttle across the sky, and a full moon rises. Footsteps echo on cold stone, startling pigeons into flight. A medieval emperor hunted with falcons and cheetahs here, consulted astrologers and slept on Asian silk. People sought refuge in the castle during the plague, and brigands hid out there. Vandals through the years stripped it, leaving little more than an empty shell on a lonely hilltop at the edge of the Murge — a barren limestone plateau worlds apart from the sunny Italian south most people know. Its 13 th-century builder, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, cultured and brutal, despotic and enlightened, a Christian crusader who was excommunicated. Frederick left a legacy that historians still debate. In his time and after, he was called stupor mundi (the wonder of the world) and the Antichrist.

Read the original article at: Dispatch

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