Melfi is one of the most important medieval castles in southern Italy

In the very south of Italy, on the hills of the Basilicata region, stands an imposing castle that has preserved the country’s rich medieval past for centuries. Located exactly halfway between Naples and Bari, Melfi Castle is located in the town of the same name, known for its olive groves and vineyards.

Because of its strategic position, overlooking the Ofanto Valley and Mount Vulture, and history, it earned the title of one of the most important castles in southern Italy.



Melfi castle, Photo: Tarta46, CC BY-SA 4.0


Built in the 11th century by the Normans, Melfi Castle in its beginnings served as a defense against external attacks and a refuge for the Norman allies. From 1059 until 1194, the heads of the church who, in several attempts, wanted to reform the church in the area of ​​southern Italy, mostly spent their time there.

With the arrival of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the Melfi castle gained importance, mainly because it was in that castle that the code of laws of the Kingdom of Sicily was created. Various modifications were made to it during that time.



After the Hohenstaufen dynasty fell apart, the castle changed several owners. The Anjou dynasty arrived first, and the castle served as the residence of Mary of Hungary, wife of Charles II of Anjou.

In the 16th century, it came under the ownership of the noble Acciaioli family, then the Marzano and Caracciolo dynasties, and went through various modifications. The last dynasty to rule the castle until the 1950s was the Doria dynasty.

The castle even survived two earthquakes, and due to various renovations on the castle, Melfi took on a polygonal shape and has 8 towers and a defensive moat.


Melfi Castle, Photo: Basilicata Turistica, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED


Today, the Melfi Castle houses the Melfi National Archaeological Museum, where you can view a rich collection of geometric ceramics, bronze figures, and armor, and a marble sarcophagus dating from the 2nd century BC.

If your trip takes you to Melfi, be sure to visit its other sights.





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