Fortifications and castles


Castle of Campobasso

Castle of

The Monforte castle is located on a high rocky spur surmounting the town (of Longobard origin), near the intersection of two sheep-tracks of which it controls long tracts. Erected on the site of a previous Longobard tower, it is of Norman origin. Remains of cyclopean walls of the Samnite period have been discovered just below it. In Norman times Campobasso became the most important centre in the feud of the de Molisio family, and Ugone (1130) moved his residence there. After 1237 the town became the property of the Gambatesa family, and later of the Monforte family. Cola di Monforte (who died at the battle of Nency) turned the castle into a seigniorial residence. In 1495 the castle passed into the hands of Andrea di Capua and later into those of the Gonzaga and Carafa families.
The ancient nucleus of the castle is four-sided, with a keep rising between the northern and western sides. Four circular corner towers were subsequently added, while the drawbridge, whose ruins are still visible, was constructed later. The present entrance, however, is through a secondary door on the western side that leads to the central courtyard.

The town (1460) was enlarged and surrounded by a double encircling wall and, forty years later, by a third curtain wall. The masonry features elements of various dimensions, well dressed and regular (especially the cornerstones), laid on substructures that are clearly recognisable. The escarpment is very steep, reaching to approximately 2/3 of the height and bounded by a continuous torus frame. The events that accompanied the building of the castle and town walls are indicated by clear wall stratigraphies and traces of the putlog holes, though modifications and restorations (the battlements, for example) do not always facilitate interpretation.

Castle of Campobasso