Besides the castle in Lecco, as Manzoni wrote, the castle in Monopoli was honoured to house a commander and a permanent Spanish garrison as well. Despite the fact that not all soldiers were born in Spain, known as “a country of heroes”, they seemed to be like those. In spite it was in the south of Italy, Monopoli seemed to be a northern village because of the reasonable number of monasteries, for the castle. The castle of Monopoli was built on a protrunding strip of land that was part of the fortification system, wanted in Apulia by the king Charles the fifth and by the most famous viceroy, the best- known Don Pedro De Toledo, from the famous city of Naples. According to others, that was the marquis Don Ferrante Loffredo, who lived in Lecce and building works ended in 1552 . The castle has a pentagonal plan, typical of XVth castles, but it seems that a pre-existing cilindric tower (with a Roman plan) was included and makes the main entrance and the façade more peculiar. Also the underground rooms seem to be included, such as the old basilian church of S. Nicola della Pinna that became the Church of the castle. The name Pinna (= flipper) is believed to be derived because of the fact it was on the tip of the protrunding peninsula with the monastery dated to the tenth century thanks to a Monopoli inhabitant who suffered from a spiritual crisis after his wife’s death. This interesting church consists of an only nave with an apse and a central dome as well.
Before turning it in a jail, during the last century until the ‘50’s the castle hosted the most important military authority of the town. According to a local scholar who reports the fact that half of the castle was in the sea where once the fishing of corals was profusely practised. But corals are not the only one miracle. Once, the Lord of the Manor, “Don Martino Coquemont, colonel of Ferdinando the IVth’s armies, a 101- year and 5 -month old man (because he wrote in the month of may 1773”. In fact, he was born in Bruxelles, on the first January 1672). Don Martino's devotion to life and to this castle and place were so strong and deep as the other (Don Pedro de Toledo) who loved this castle by the sea and this town as well. After him, other famous foreign authorities fell in love with the town and they didn’t go away anymore. From the castle you can carry on walking along S. Salvatore promenade: a sort of balcony onto the Adriatic Sea. Here, you can see from the bulwark S. Maria the double balcony of a building, best -known as palazzo dell’Andora, maybe the first Town Hall.
Few steps away, there is the church of S. Salvatore, an old parish church now left in a state of ruin whose gilded icons dated to the XIV and XVth century were stolen. Carrying on along the promenade, via S. Vito leads to the southeast stretch of the walls survived within the old town. On the right, there is the small church of San Vito from which the name of the street derives and many streets that let you go into the old town. In the 3rd one there is the building of the Knights of Malta that leads to a small square where the small church dedicated to San Giovanni is placed. Also this church had a venetian polyptych too. On the left, there are the fortification walls of Charles the fifth. That’s the exit from the old town in the same place where Porta Vecchia was, also called - according to the local scholars - Porta Foca because is believed to be built during the Reign of the Emperor Foca from Bysantium. From here, there is the street that led and still leads to Egnatia. Arriving to the beach whose name derives from that door, the oldest of the town, you can see the perimeter walls of that promontory by the sea that was the original core of Monopoli. With the walls of Charles the fifth, it seems to be a stone ship that slices through the seawaters. On the western side, the ruins of the old perimeter walls and moat are still preserved. It is still possible to see them from the short stretch of road close to the nearest houses under the Cathedral bell- tower.
Fonti: Campanelli Giacomo, Monopoli. Guida turistica, Schena editore, Fasano 1989
Monopoli nel suo passato, Quaderni di storia locale della Biblioteca Comunale “Prospero Rendella”