Informazioni & Contatti
Via XXV Luglio, 73100 Lecce
Il Teatro, l'Anfiteatro Romano e il Castello Carlo V di Lecce sono gestiti dal Ministero della Cultura -Direzione Regionale Musei Puglia. Le visite guidate sono a cura dell'ATI Orione Politi.
Via XXV Luglio
Il Teatro e Anfiteatro romano di Lecce
e il Castello Carlo V
sono siti gestiti dal Ministero della Cultura
Direzione Regionale Musei Puglia
Audio guides for visiting the castle
Welcome to the castle of Lecce, the largest in the Puglia region. Through the history of this castle we can understand the millenary history of Lecce. In fact, the oldest foundations of the castle were built using older blocks taken from the nearby Roman amphitheater, located in Sant’Oronzo square. Tha castle has a double curtain wall: the internal one, which is part of the older structure, and the external one, characterized by lanceolate bastions, so called because they have the shape of a spearhead.
This particular shape of the ramparts was created to reduce the effects of shots fired by bombards, diverting the trajectory of the projectile so that the supporting structure was not damaged. The castle of Lecce has four lanceolate bastions, dedicated to the Holy Cross, the Trinity, Saint Martin and Saint James.
2. PATROL WALKWAYS
The patrol walkways made it possible to move men and artillery pieces for defense purposes. The trapezoidal shape of the fortress was surrounded by a dry moat no longer visible and allowed to minimize the effects o fan assault with the use of bombards. Furthermore, the firepower of the castle was enough to respond promptly to any enemy attack through the embrasures located in the ramparts and in some sections of the fortification.
The ascent ramp to the patrol walkways has a stairway designed to facilitate the tran sport of artillery pieces. From the top of the bastion you can see the thickness of the walls and the lanceolate shape. You can also appreciate the structures of the older fortification which, being decorated with Renaissance-style windows, give the castle a gentle elegance.
3. Church of St. Barbara
The chapel overlooking the court yard, traditionally called St. Barbara, was actually dedicated to Our Immaculate Lady and only one altar was dedicated to Saint Barbara, patron saint of the gunners. It was built or rebuilt in 1660. On the main facade, where you see the front door surmounted by a triangular tympanum and a window, there is the coat of arms of the Loffredo family. The crape was not part of Gian Giacomo dell’Acaya’s project because it was not yet finished in 1571, but it was still consacrated and frequented at the end of the 19th century- beginning of the 1900s.
The General Tommaso Romano, who was commendator of the ancient Land of Otranto, died in 1857 and was buried in the crape of the castle by the will of the Lecce community.
A small access on the right of the crape led to the sacristy, where you can still observe a stoup set in the back wall. Under the floor, the remains of the ancient entrance to the previous medieval manor, in continuità with what was found in the parade ground.
4. The parade ground
The archaeological excavations conducted in recent years have brought to light many testimonies of the ancient history of the castle. The traces dated back to the Norman age allow us to date the first fortification, which was built with resulting materials, at the time of King Roger II of sicily during the 12th century. The fortress was then remodeled by the Emperor Frederick II. The two parallel walls placed next to an ancient paving and which probably consistute the entrance space to the Swabian castle, date back to the Frederick period. Between the walls you can see a granary pit for storing foodstuffs. During the Aragonese period the structures were leveled to create the parade ground, with the construction of a water well connected, through a long canal, to an ancient water cistern.
5. The prisons
Between 2004 and 2005 below the medieval “Torre Mozza” (truncated tower) were brought to light, in a basement, the prisons of the sixteenth-century castle, consisting of a large quadrangular room divided into two smaller rooms covered by vaults. The walls are covered with graffiti and bas-reliefs, still being studied, left by the prisoners. Visible are: two inscriptions in Hebrew language, birds and other animals, ladders, canals, crosses, human figures, but above all the coats of arms of the famiglie to which the prisoners themselves belonged. The study of these graffiti made it possible to recognize the family coats of arms of Del Balzo, unghie, Maremonti and Acquaviva D’Aragona. Among the illustrious prisoners there was also Gian Giacomo dell’Acaya, the general architect of Charles V, who had designed these prisons and the structure of the external curtain shake like a spearhead.
6. The throne room (Maria d'Enghien room)
The large hall, known as the Throne Room, certainly had important political functions: its walls were perhaps decorated with frescoes and tapestries, of which there is no longer trace. The only decorative element that can still be admired is made up of the corbels of the vaults, which represent the local Renaissance tradition. All the hanging capitals are characterized by projecting stone heads representing human faces, saints, mythological characters and representations of animals that refer to a symbolic universe both sacred and profane, with an apotropaic function. By apotropaic function we mean a type of magic intended to turn away harm or evil influences, as in deflecting mi sfortune or averting the evil eye.
This means that these figures served as a warning and at the same time represented an exorcism of the most obsessive fears. For examples the image of the Moorish man evokes the fear of the enemies of the Empire and recalls the massacre of otranto which took place in 1480, when the city was invaded and sacked by the turks.
Athena – Owl: the owl refers to the wisdom of those who judged, saved or condemned the actions of the men in the throne room. The owl was the sacred bird of the goddess Athena and was the symbol of philosophy and of wisdom.
The cricket: a small cricket is carved in the center of the only capital without decoration. The cricket, even if in rare cases it has been interpreted as a symbol of the evil, in reality is a symbol of intuition and good luck which drives away misfortunes.
7. Torre Mozza (truncated tower)
The tower is known as “torre mozza” due to its smaller height, compared to the Magistra Tower. The cross vault with almond shaped ribs was part of the medieval architecture of the tower. The ribs are supported by characteristic late Gothic capitals, two of which are decorated with acanthus leaves while two others with allegorical figures, difficult to interpret, which recall the late romanesque repertoire of the Abbey of St. Mary of Cerrate and the repertoire of the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria in Galatina.
In the sixteenth century the floor of this room was raised. A niche houses a seventeenth-century fresco depicting the Pietà (italian for pity) with the dead Christ in the arms of his mother and the saints Francis of Paola and Paschal baylòn.