Bernalda Castle (Italy)

Basilicata     See list of castles in Italia

To the south of Montescaglioso, in a dominant position on the Basento valley, the primitive nucleus of the castle of Camarda arose (a site that will take today's name of Bernalda only in the fifteenth century). The construction had to be initiated by the local lord, Riccardo, who had obtained the surrounding lands as a fief, and which immediately provided for the construction of the territory. Little or nothing is known of the following epochs, except that the community of Camarda was, at the time of Emperor Frederick II, obliged by the Statutum de reparatione castrorum of 1241-1246 to maintain and repair the fortifications of the castrum of Torremare, near Metaponto . Subsequently, it can not be excluded that the fortress of Bernalda was regularly visited, inhabited and restored after the frequent earthquakes that raged in the area. That of 1466 probably had a huge flow, since in a few years, in 1470, the castle of Camarda was almost completely redone. The new fortress was erected by Bernardino de Bernardo, eminent court man, secretary of King Alfonso II, of Ferdinando and of Federico d'Aragona. From the name of that obsequious feudal lord, perhaps the name "Bernauda" emerged for the citadel that was growing and populating all around the castle. The size of the inhabited area was quite relevant when, in 1607, Don Niccolò of Peres Navarrete was titled Duke of Bernalda with a privilege. In the castellary structures it was finally hosted in 1735 Charles III of Bourbon, who at the beginning of his reign wanted to visit the territories that were affected in consequence of the war of Polish succession.

The structure of the castle

In its current configuration, the castellated building of Bernalda presents a quadrangular plan with angular towers, with a markedly late-fifteenth century mark, although it can be considered as the result of different architectural stratifications. The observation of one of the cylindrical towers, which is equipped with a high trunk-conical base, could in fact suggest an Angevin building intervention. In any case, the castle's closing walls seem to follow the nature of the terrain, and are mainly perpendicular. The continuous restorations must have reduced the width of the entire structure, which at the time of reconstruction could be configured with at least four other towers. Those residuals are however made up of a basement, used mostly as storage, followed by a ground floor with defensive preparations also oriented towards the inside of the enclosure, and two upper floors open on the courtyard, except for the tower of the southern summit . Curiosity: the castle of Bernalda has fourteen wells, to draw water in case of siege. A virtually unlimited supply.

Images of the castle

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Useful infos

Latitude: 40.4031863
Longitude: 16.6882083
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Map of Bernalda Castle