Castles and fortifications in Italy

Peschiera Fortress

Peschiera del Garda was once the site of an ancient lake-dwelling settlement. The fortress played a prominent part in most military campaigns conducted in northern Italy after 1400. In the middle of the 16th century the fortress and town passed into the hands of the Venetians, who ordered reconstruction of the fortress according to projects by Guidobaldo da Urbino and Sanmicheli. Napoleon added two new fortresses there. A ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Peschiera del Garda, Italy

St. George Castle

The Castle of St. George (Castello di San Giorgio) was built from 1395 and finished in 1406 under commission by Francesco I Gonzaga, designed by Bartolino da Novara, one of the most renowned military architects of the time. It has as square plan with four corner towers, surrounded by a ditch with three entrances, each one with a drawbridge. In 1459 architect Luca Fancelli, commissioned by marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga ...
Founded: 1395-1406 | Location: Mantua, Italy

Dolceacqua Castle

The Doria Castle is situated in a dominant position overlooking the Dolceacqua village. The first mention of the castle and the village, called at the time Dulzana, dates back to 1177 in an ancient document in which abuts the property of the counts of Ventimiglia. Will be in 1270, almost a hundred years later, the feud and its manor house will be purchased by Oberto Doria - the latter founder of the famous dynasty that wi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Dolceacqua, Italy

Clavesana Castle

The Clavesana Castle dates back to the 13th Century and is located in Cervo, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, which overlooks the Diano Marina Gulf. The Castle hosts a permanent exhibit about Ligurian women and the Museum of the Ponente Ligure (West Liguria) with tools and everyday objects of the country life. 
Founded: 13th century | Location: Cervo, Italy

Hofburg

Prince Bishops of Brixen commissioned the construction of their fortified castle (called Hofburg) in Brixen in the 13th century. The following centuries brought about numerous revisions to the structure. Around 1600 the splendid renaissance-style interior courtyard was created and decorated with bronze-overlaid terracotta statues by Hans Reichle, the celebrated sculptor from Augsburg. During that same period, the meeting ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Brixen, Italy

Venetian Walls of Bergamo

The Lombardian city of Bergamo is composed of two parts, Città Alta (Upper Town), built up on the hills, and the Città Bassa (Lower Town), which is a lively financial, industrial and administrative centre of national importance. A milestone in the history of Bergamo was its incorporation into the Venetian State in 1428, which lasted for over three centuries and a half. The two parts of city are separated, both physical ...
Founded: 1561 | Location: Bergamo, Italy

Brescia Castle

Brescia Castle on the rocky hill is the ancient part of Brixia, Roman city established in the 1st century BCE. The castle is called the 'Falcon of Italy' because of its position on the summit of the hill, where it overlooks the city from above. It is one of the largest fortified complexes in Italy with 75,000 square metres enclosed within its surrounding walls. The old Venetian-Visconti stronghold dominates the city and ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Brescia, Italy

Ruffo di Scilla Castle

Located on the Scilla promontory, towards the Strait of Messina, the castle also known as Castello Ruffo di Calabria, is a legacy of rare beauty. It represents the genius loci of the city of Scilla, about 20 km from Reggio Calabria and its history started in the Etruscan era. Scilla is completely isolated and right next to the sea, the ideal lookout location to protect the Calabrian lands from whoever arrives by sea. ...
Founded: 1060 | Location: Scilla, Italy

Monopoli Castle

The Castle of Monopoli, surrounded by the sea and located on a peninsula, was built first as a stronghold and later changed into noble house. It was originally built as part of coastal strongholds by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and later fortified by the Angevins. In 1552 it was once again reinforced by the viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo, at the behest of Charles V. Other important changes were made in 1660, by the Duke ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Monopoli, Italy

Gallipoli Castle

The Angevine-Aragonese castle of Gallipoli dates back to the 13th-14th centuries, but the town used to have a stronghold already during Roman time, together with towers enlarged by the Byzantines and by the Normans. The Angevins and the Aragonese modified the structure of the fortress, but Francesco di Giorgio Martini was the one who made important changes. During the 19th century the moat was filled up and the arches whi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gallipoli, Italy

Castel del Monte

Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II. As a ...
Founded: 1240 | Location: Andria, Italy

Ursino Castle

Castello Ursino was built between 1239 and 1250, as one of the royal castles of Emperor Frederick II, King of Sicily. In 1295, during the Sicilian Vespers, the Parliament which declared deposed James II of Aragon as King of Sicily, replacing him with Frederick III, was held here. The following year it was captured by Robert of Anjou but was later again in Aragonese hands. After the move of the capital away from Catania a ...
Founded: 1239-1250 | Location: Catania, Italy

Ivrea Castle

Ivrea Castle was built on behalf of Amadeus VI, Count of Savoy, in 1358. Ivrea was built to signify the dominance of the House of Savoy over the region. The castle has four towers erected on a plan flank. It is located next to a cathedral and a bishop"s palace. The castle is mentioned in the work of Giosuè Carducci. The most significant changes were recorded at the end of the 18th century, when the castle was trans ...
Founded: 1358 | Location: Ivrea, Italy

Rapallo Castle

Rapallo castle was erected in 1551 to counter the frequent pirate attacks. It includes a small chapel dedicated to St. Cajetan, built in 1688. Used for a long time as a prison it was restored and is now a prestigious venue for exhibitions and conferences.
Founded: 1551 | Location: Rapallo, Italy

Santa Margherita Ligure Castle

The Santa Margherita Ligure fortress is located at the foot of a hill on which the Villa Durazzo-Centurione now stands. It was built following a resolution by the Senate of the Republic of Genoa in 1550, and it was meant to defend against raids from the Barbary pirates. It was designed by Antonio de Càrabo, who was also responsible for the construction of the Castello di Rapallo. Construction began in 1550 and it was co ...
Founded: 1550 | Location: Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy

Lipari Castle

The castle site in Lipari island has been populated for thousand years, but the current fortifications data mainly from the 16th century. The castle is surrounded by a long wall, built by the Spanish under Charles V domination around the mid-16th century.  The enter door leads to a gallery at exit, where an iron shutter was closed, and thanks to the existent trapdoors, boiling oils were poured. The first building to see ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Lipari, Italy

San Vigilio Castle

Representing a clearly visible symbol of power, San Vigilio Castle has been the residence of Bergamo’s numerous rulers for centuries. It is located 496 meters above the sea level, on top of the hill that gives it its name, overlooking the Città Alta: that’s why it used to have a strategic role in case of attacks. The circle plan of the building resembles a star, featuring the four towers called Castagneta, Belvedere, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bergamo, Italy

Gate of Saint Blaise

Gate of Saint Blaise is one of the three entrance gates to the old town of Lecce, located in the southern part of the city walls. It was built in 1773 and is dedicated to St. Biagio (Blaise), a bishop from Lecce who was martyred in Armenia. His figure was placed on the top of the neoclassical gate above the columns and tympanum.
Founded: 1773 | Location: Lecce, Italy

Asolo Castle

Asolo Castle dates back to the 10th century although there is no definite information indicating the origins of the complex. In 1242 it was home to Ezzelino da Romano and, from 1339, it became the seat of the podestà of Venice. At the end of the 14th century it was merged with the city walls. Three of the four towers it still remain: the Civic or Bell tower, the Reata tower acting as a gaol and the Carro tower, nowadays ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Asolo, Italy

Priamar Fortress

The Priamar Fortress is a fortress occupying the hill with the same name above the port of Savona. The fortress was built in 1542 by the Republic of Genoa on a promontory where in medieval times was the nucleus of Savona, by design of architect Giovanni Maria Olgiati. However, traces of pre-Roman, Roman and Byzantine presences in the site have been excavated in the past centuries, and are now on display in Savona"s A ...
Founded: 1542 | Location: Savona, 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.