Matera’s Province Castles

Bernalda Castle

Basilicata castles – Matera Province

Of the many feudal castles that existed in the region, remain only isolated towers and ruins :

Bernalda Castle: The Castle, built in 1470, appears a bit squat, as it was typical in that era. It was erected by Bernardino de Bernardo, who founded the town. Bernardino, who was secretary of the Aragonese court, with the construction of the fortified Castle initiated the building of the town which bears his name. Some sources, however, claim that the Castle already existed during Norman times. The truncated cone base of one of the cylindrical towers leads us to believe that the construction was Angevin instead. In any case, there are many adaptations and stratifications in the castle architecture.

Irsina Castle: The old Montepeloso Castle (ancient name) was a Norman construction later altered by Frederick of Swabia in 1228. Today it appears much as it did in the 16th century when it became a Franciscan convent. The crypt was excavated from the foundation of one of the quadrilateral castle towers in 1100.

Ferrandina Castle: The Uggiano Castle, a Byzantine military fortification, dating to the beginning of the 9th century, was taken over and rebuilt by the Normans at the beginning of the 11th century, and was changed into an elegant residence by Jacopus de Astiliano in the first half of the 14th century. An earthquake destroyed it in 1456 and today it is in ruins.

Miglionico Castle: Called ‘Malconsiglio’ (ill-advice), it was in the Miglionico Castle that in 1481 the barons plotted against the King of Naples, Ferdinand I of Aragon. The Miglionico Castle was also the fief of Hector Fieramosca. It was built by the Normans in the 11th century and their style is perceived in the squared, lateral towers. The cylindrical towers are from a later date. The interior appears altered and divided, but the charm of this castle remains unchanged.

Matera Castle: Around the beginning of 1500, the Tramontane Castle was built under the name of the feudal lord who was given the city by Ferdinand II. The building dominates the Bradano River Valley. You can see two cylindrical towers and in the middle an enormous, circular embattled tower. The form is quite unusual for the era and is due to the fact that the feudal lord initially tried to imitate the ‘Maschio Angioino’ in Naples. He was unable to finish it in time because he was killed, most probably because, as owner of salt mines in Manfredonia and of a grain depository in Barletta, his presence overshadowed the other wealthy men in the area.

Nova Siri Castle: High above the sea you can see the gorgeous Bollita Tower, 1300.

San Mauro Forte: All that remains is the main Norman tower (altered in 1400) and the tower with its three-tiered corbels, one of the best-preserved in the region.

Miglionico Castle – Photo © pingendiartifex

Scanzano Jonico: Small, but truly different, the Castle of Scanzano Ionico preserves its antique center gathered around the ‘Palazzaccio’, master’s edifice, highly regarded by the inhabitants of the castle.

Tricarico Castle: All that remains is the very high, cylindrical tower. It represents the typically defensive characteristic of the Ngevin habitations.

Valsinni Castle: We will conclude with the most poetic of the castles. Seen from a long distance away, today it has an Aragonese appearance and its most famous owner was the poetess Isabella Morra di Valsinni (1520-1545). However, we know that it already existed during the Middle Ages.

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