Santo Stefano Castle, also known as Santo Stefano Abbey, is an important coastal fortification located outside the city of Monopoli, Apulia.
It was a crucial part of the intricate and well-articulated structure of the city during the Middle Ages. The abbey is located in what was once known as Turris Paola or “Rocca” during the late Roman era. The monastery was erected on a tiny peninsula between two inlets providing two small natural ports, notably the modern Santo Stefano and Ghiacciolo, and it was founded in 1086 by Goffredo, Count of Conversano.
To better control the flow of pilgrims to the Holy Land, the Knights of Malta, who already owned a domus intra moenia that was being used as a hospital, made the decision to relocate to the abbey around the end of the 13th century. In 1435, they established the Bailiwick of Santo Stefano di Monopoli and fortified the old coastal defensive manor.
Both the bays to the right and left of the monastery-fortress were made suitable for docking, and they constructed a moat that is still discernible today.
Featured image: wikimedia (modified)
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