Castles and fortifications in Italy

Porta Asinaria

The Porta Asinaria is a gate in the Aurelian Walls of Rome. Dominated by two protruding tower blocks and associated guard rooms, it was built between 270 and 273, at the same time as the Wall itself. It is through this gate that East Roman troops under General Belisarius entered the city in 536, reclaiming the city for the Byzantine Empire from the Ostrogoths. By the 16th century it had become overwhelmed by traffic. A n ...
Founded: 270-273 | Location: Rome, Italy

Porta Siberia

Porta Siberia is a massive gate, dating back to 1551-53. It was the work of Galeazzo Alessi and once formed part of the 16th-century walls. Its name derives from 'cibaria' (foodstuffs), for it was through this gate that the city"s produce passed, both on arrival from the sea and departure towards other ports in the Mediterranean.Once used as a customs area, after the Old Port was restructured it was turned ...
Founded: 1551 | Location: Genoa, Italy

Trauttmansdorff Castle and Gardens

The origins of Trauttmansdorff Castle go all the way back to the Middle Ages. The structure was first documented in 1300 as Neuberg Castle. The medieval walls are still visible on the southwest side, and the crypt dates from that period. The fresco room has also been preserved from the Renaissance period. In the mid-19th century, Count Joseph von Trauttmansdorff bought the dilapidated building and renovated it using neo- ...
Founded: 1899 | Location: Meran, Italy

San Pietro Castle

Verona was founded to the site of current Castel San Pietro. This green hill, crowned by cypresses, is home to the remains of the first settlements dating back to the 7th century B.C. From this magnificent vantage-point you can enjoy the view of the whole city spreading out, with its network of Roman Roads, its walls, tall towers and steeples and, if your eyesight is good, you can even make out part of the Arena and the P ...
Founded: 1393 | Location: Verona, Italy

San Giusto Castle

In the prehistoric age on the hill of San Giusto there was a castelliere (fortified borough), which in the Roman age became an important urban centre. The fortress, built by the Venetians in the Middle Ages, was pulled down in the 14th century by will of the Patriarch of Aquileia and, in 1470 only, it was rebuilt by Friedrich II of Habsburg; the square tower and the two-storey building, which today houses the Castle Museu ...
Founded: 1470 | Location: Trieste, Italy

Porta Palatina

The Palatine Gate (Porta Palatina) is a Roman Age city gate located in Turin, Italy. The gate provided access through the city walls of Julia Augusta Taurinorum (modern Turin) from the North side and, as a result, it constituted the Porta Principalis Dextra (Right-Side Main Gate) of the old town. Built in the 1st century during the Augustan Age or the Flavian Age, the Porta Principalis Dextra may predate ...
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Turin, Italy

Miramare Castle

Miramare Castle and its park were built by order of Ferdinand Maximilian of Habsburg (1832–1867). He was the younger brother of Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria and later the only monarch of the Second Mexican Empire. In 1850, at the age of eighteen, Maximilian came to Trieste with his brother Charles and, immediately afterwards, he set off on a short cruise toward the Near East. This journey confirmed his intention to ...
Founded: 1856-1860 | Location: Grignano, Italy

Malcesine Castle

Malcesine's most prominent landmark is the Castello Scaligero, which has 13th-century fortifications and an older medieval tower in white natural stone. Like the castle of Sirmione at the southern end of the lake, it is named for the della Scala family of Verona who ruled the region in the 13th and 14th centuries, and has the characteristic swallow-tail Ghibelline merlon crenallations. Remnants of an Etruscan tomb have be ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Malcesine, Italy

Pepoli Castle

Therea re two castles in Erice, Pepoli Castle, with foundations dating from Arab times, and nearby Venus Castle, dating from the Norman period. Surrounded by a lush park, the hilltop castles alone are worth a stop in Erice, which offers charming old stone streets and several medieval churches. Pepoli Castle was at first a feudal stronghold, though Erice was eventually ceded to the Crown as a demesnial city. The view from ...
Founded: 10-11th century AD | Location: Erice, Italy

Castello Aragonese

Castello Aragonese is a fortification in Taranto. Officially called the Castel San Angelo, it was built on the site of older fortifications dating to Greek occupation in the third and fourth centuries BC. In 1481 the low ground in front of the fortification site was excavated to allow the passage of boats, and to create a moated defensive position. The present fortress was built for the then-king of Naples, Ferdinand II o ...
Founded: 1496 | Location: Taranto, Italy

Villafranca Castle

The Castle of Villafranca di Verona was built starting in 1199, after the Battle of Ponte dei Molini (Mantua), and was completed in 1202. The purpose was to defend the population of Villafranca in casa of sudden attacks from Mantua. Serraglio, a defensive wall unique in Europe, was built in 1345. It is about 13 miles long. It started from Borghetto and linked five castles: Borghetto, Valeggio, Gherla, Villafranca and Nog ...
Founded: 1199 | Location: Villafranca di Verona, Italy

Otranto Castle

important bridgehead toward the east, the city of Otranto was provided since the antiquity of defense systems and fortified works. The siege suffered by the city in 1067 seriously damaged the fortress that was repaired and reinforced a few years later at the behest of Roberto il Guiscardo. The reconstruction promoted in 1228 by Frederick II of Swabia instead remain evident traces of the tower of the median body cylindrica ...
Founded: 1228 | Location: Otranto, Italy

Castelmola

This small village of Castelmola is a real genuine natural terrace built around the ruins of a Norman castle. The Norman walls are all that remain of the fortress. A plaque from the tenth century with Greek-Byzantine engravings placed on the façade of the cathedral states: This castle was built under Costantino, patrician and strategist of Sicily. It is probably referring to Costantino Caramalo, who in the ninth centur ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Castelmola, Italy

Castelsardo Castle

The town of Castelsardo originates from the castle built in the 12th or 13th century by the Doria family of Genoa. The castle and the village which gradually formed round it where the seat of the Doria"s fiefdom in the island called Castel Doria or Castelgenovese, until it was conquered by the Aragonese in the 15th century (1448), and named Castillo Aragonés (Castel Aragonese). Later it became the seat of the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Castelsardo, Italy

Bari Swabian Castle

The Castello Svevo or Swabian Castle (Castello normanno-svevo), also known as the Houhenstaufen Castle, is a castle in the Apulian city of Bari. Probably built in 1132 by Norman King Roger II, it was destroyed in 1156 by king William I of Sicily and rebuilt and reinforced in 1233 by the Holy Roman emperor Fredrick II. During the Angevin domination, it went through several transformation, and after being acquired ...
Founded: 1132 | Location: Bari, Italy

Aragonese Castle

Aragonese Castle stands on a volcanic rocky islet that connects to the larger island of Ischia by a causeway (Ponte Aragonese). The Aragonese Castle is the most impressive historical monument in Ischia, built by Hiero I of Syracuse in 474 BC. At the same time, two towers were built to control enemy fleets" movements. The rock was then occupied by Parthenopeans (the ancient inhabitants of Naples). In 326 BC the ...
Founded: 474 BCE | Location: Ischia, Italy

Buonconsiglio Castle

Buonconsiglio Castle was originated from a fortified building was erected in the 13th century next to the city's walls. This first building was called Castelvecchio ('Old Castle'), and was the seat of the Bishopric of Trent from the 13th century onwards to the end of the 18th century. The castle is composed of a series of buildings of different eras, enclosed by a circle of walls in a slightly elevated position above the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Trento, Italy

Brown Castle

Castello Brown is a house museum located high above the harbour of Portofino. The castle"s site is well suited for harbour defence, and appears to have been so used since the 15th century. According to the Record Office of Genoa, cannon batteries were constructed on the site in the early 16th century, and military engineer Giovanni Maria Olgiati drew up plans for a full fortress circa 1554. The resultant castello was ...
Founded: 1554 | Location: Portofino, Italy

Porta Napoli

Porta Napoli is a citygate of Lecce built by Emperor Charles V in 1548 to defend the city. It has two Corinthian columns and Habsburg coat of arms above them.
Founded: 1548 | Location: Lecce, Italy

Castle of Charles V

The Castle of Charles V was first built in the Middle Ages, and was strengthened by Charles V in 1539, to a design by the architect Gian Giacomo dell’Acaya. To build this fortress two constructions were pulled down: the Chapel of the Trinity and the Monastery of the Benedictine Order of the Saint Cross. The castle did not have only defensive functions, in the 18th century one of its rooms was used as a theatre. From 18 ...
Founded: 1539 | Location: Lecce, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls

The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was part of the federal sanctuary of the three Gauls dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus celebrated by the 60 Gallic tribes when they gathered at Lugdunum (Lyon). The amphitheatre was built at the foot of the La Croix-Rousse hill at what was then the confluence of the Rhône and Saône.

Excavations have revealed a basement of three elliptical walls linked by cross-walls and a channel surrounding the oval central arena. The arena was slightly sloped, with the building"s south part supported by a now-vanished vault. The arena"s dimensions are 67,6m by 42m. This phase of the amphitheatre housed games which accompanied the imperial cult, with its low capacity (1,800 seats) being enough for delegations from the 60 Gallic tribes.

The amphitheatre was expanded at the start of the 2nd century. Two galleries were added around the old amphitheatre, raising its width from 25 metres to 105 metres and its capacity to about 20,000 seats. In so doing it made it a building open to the whole population of Lugdunum and its environs.