The Palazzo del Principe

From the castle to the palace

The Palazzo del Principe Click here to enlarge

In the Salento area, over a period of two centuries, old fortifications underwent radical transformations. There were several ways in which the nobility transformed their property in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Some castles, excluded from this process of conversion, have maintained their original character (Lecce, Gallipoli, Otranto, Copertino), other buildings were newly planned using a language which was strongly indebted to the architecture of castles; among these were those which were, indeed, castles and those which were stately homes (Casamassella, Cannole, Lizzanello).


In some cases the exterior as we see it today has retained its fort like appearance, while it is above all the courtyards which have been transformed (Morciano, Ugento, Giuliano). In numerous cases the bastions have been amalgamated into the new buildings: from the 15th century work undertaken in Lucugnano to that in Racale and Taurisano, but in some cases the intermingling of fort and palace is so great in the fašade that it is now difficult to distinguish the parts of the previous defence structure (Monteroni, Alessano). In Tricase the space between the two medieval towers was filled in the mid 17th century with a long scarp wall and a string course cordon.

'Graffita' Amphora  (16th-17th century) Click here to enlarge

Another kind of intervention took place in buildings where, especially in the 1700s, new wings were added without any kind of masking or concealing of the original parts: in Campi it was probably Mauro Manieri who was responsible for the new wing (1724). More radical still, some buildings were completely demolished and subsequently rebuilt: with only the site remaining of the original fort. This was the case for Palazzo Guarini in San Cesario (early 17th century) and Palazzo Granafei in Sternatia, with its fašade divided up by horizontal and vertical bands, attributed to Mauro Manieri (1740 c.)