Castello ducale, Cantelmo

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The Cantelmo Ducal Castle is a Middle Ages castle in Popoli, Pescara, Abruzzo.

The castle was constructed around a Lombard tower that was guarding the Popoli gorges pass and the abbey of San Clemente a Casauria as early as the ninth century. The bishop of Valva Tidolfo constructed the walls’ triangular plan between 1000 and 1015, but the Cantelmo family, who succeeded them as feudal rulers in 1269 and controlled it until the 17th century, significantly altered it in the late 15th century.

The Count of Manoppello Ugo Malmozzetto usurped the castle in the middle of the 1100s, establishing clear control over the valley on behalf of Robert I of Loritello, and assigned it to one of his lieutenants. The “Chronicon Casauriense” tells the story of how Count Ugo, a ruthless and power-hungry man, was tricked into going to the castle, “Castrum Pauperim,” in 1097 by a princess from the adjacent fort of Prezza, and how he was eventually arrested and executed by her brothers who had come to ambush him.

Newly restored Castello ducale Cantelmo as seen from the Autostrada to Pescara
Newly restored Castello ducale Cantelmo as seen from the Autostrada to Pescara (source)

Prior to moving to the Ducal Palace at Popoli in 1480, the Cantelmo family lived in the castle. The castle was renovated, particularly in the Aragonese period following the earthquake of 1456, during the Cantelmo rule. An example of this is the south tower with a cylindrical plan, while the pentagonal tower, the so-called upper male, was modified from its ancient irregular pentagonal appearance.

Similar to the Bominaco, San Pio delle Camere, Barisciano, and Stiffe castles in the L’Aquila region of Abruzzo, the castle shared a similar layout. The triangle enclosure first protected the population from invasions, but as the town of Popoli grew downstream—the oldest part being that between the churches of San Lorenzo and the Holy Trinity—the castle gradually lost its strategic role.

Featured image: wikimedia

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