Carlo V Castle in Lecce

Among the many wonders that the city of Lecce hosts, we cannot forget the Carlo V Castle, which stands a short distance from the famous Piazza Sant’Oronzo, a must-visit place for anyone who finds themselves in the splendid baroque city.

The castle is an imposing structure from the Norman age which has undergone various modifications and renovations over the centuries.

Legends and stories have been handed down about the castle which, in addition to making it a fascinating place to visit, shroud it in mystery.

Charles V Castle in Lecce
Carlo V Castle in Lecce ©

The history of Carlo V Castle in Lecce

It owes its name to the Spanish sovereign Charles V who had it renovated in the 16th century: in fact its construction dates back to the 12th century AD. The renovation began precisely in 1537 and ended in 1553. It is precisely thanks to the renovation work carried out under Charles V that the castle became a fortress against enemy attacks, as it was enriched with new defensive works.

Obviously compared to the medieval structure, of which it preserves the trapezoidal plan, the Torre Mozza and the Torre Magistra, the castle was enlarged with new rooms and surrounded by a curtain wall which was connected to four bastions: of the Holy Trinity, of the Holy Cross, of San Martino and San Giacomo.

The legends about Carlo V Castle

As anticipated, the Charles V Castle is shrouded in mystery due to the many legends that have been handed down about this place. One of these claims that the ghosts of Maria d’Enghien and Giangiacomo dell’Acaya live in the basement of the fortress. The latter was the engineer responsible for the project of making the castle a fortress against enemy attacks. Unfortunately it is said that Giangiacomo ended his days right in the cells of the castle’s basement, after having acted as guarantor to a man who did not honor his debts. From that place, which he designed and built, he never saw the light of the sun again.

Regarding Maria d’Enghien, Queen of Naples, Princess of Taranto and Countess of Lecce, Soleto and Galatina, it is said that her spirit often returns to the castle where she lived during her lifetime.

Furthermore, there are those who confess to having heard the crying of a child coming from the Charles V Castle: it is probably the son of a soldier who died falling into a well and was carried away from here by the current of the Idume river (a of water flowing under the city of Lecce).

All these legends do nothing but make the Charles V Castle an even more fascinating place.

Useful information

The Carlo V Castle hosts within it, in addition to various exhibitions and shows, also the Papier-mâché Museum, the maximum expression of local artistic craftsmanship. It is a collection of approximately 80 works created by the most important living papier-mâché makers from the 18th century to the present day.

Furthermore, thanks to the collaboration between the Superintendency of Archaeological Fine Arts and Landscape for the Provinces of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto and the cultural associations “34° fusa” and “The Monuments People”, visitors can take guided and multimedia tours to discover the hidden places in the castle (such as dungeons or cells) thanks to the “Through the Castle” project.

Usually the castle opens following these times in winter:

  • Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 9.30am to 9pm

In summer, from June to September:

  • Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 9.30am to 9pm

While in the months of July and August:

  • from Monday to Friday from 9am to 11pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 9.30am to 11pm

However, given the health emergency linked to the Coronavirus epidemic, opening to the public is subject to restrictions in order to avoid risky gatherings.

With the promotion of Puglia in the yellow zone, the castle has reopened its doors, so visits are currently possible.

The cost of the entrance ticket is 5 euros (2 euros for children). Access is free for disabled people and their companions.

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