Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Power of Eight

It stands stark and imposing on the plain, a stone tower on a hill visible for miles across the Apulian countryside. It is the 13th century marvel known today as the Castel del Monte, a symbol of the power of Frederick II and one of his series of castles. It is believed that Frederick himself never used the castle, though it did serve as prison to one of his descendents. Theories about the octagonal manse abound: was it a mathematical puzzle, an astrological observatory, or something even more mystical? Standing in the open atrium of the octagon, you can believe it was something more – until the tour group arrives that spoils the magic.

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