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Santo Stefano Castle

Overview

The majestic guardian of the city

Majestic, an integral part of the ancient medieval city's defence system and still one of Monopoli's main attractions. This is Santo Stefano Castle, better known as theAbbey of Santo Stefano. Standing on a rocky outcrop once known as Turris Paola, it was built in 1086 at the request of Count Goffredo of Conversano. The peninsula on which it is located is surrounded by two inlets now known as Lido Santo Stefano and Lido Porto Ghiacciolo.

The abbey, which later became the seat of the Benedictine monastery, took its name from the relics of St Stephen that it housed before they were transferred to Putignano. Later converted into a hospital of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, it passed to the Knights of Malta in the 14th century, who used it as a fiefdom until the beginning of the last century.

Privatised at the time of Joachim Murat, it is now owned by the de Bellis family and remains an must-see attraction thanks to its unique structure, with walls, moat, donjon and machicolations. Apparently, the ancient entrance was by means of a drawbridge. It houses two churches: one is Romanesque, built in the Frederician style, the second is a rock sanctuary with a staircase leading to the original Benedictine church.

Santo Stefano Castle

Monopoli, Contrada S. Stefano, 70043 Monopoli BA, Italia

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