Castles and fortifications in Italy

Fénis Castle

Fénis Castle is one of the most famous castles in Aosta Valley, and for its architecture and its many towers and battlemented walls has become one of the major tourist attractions of the region. The castle first appears in a document in 1242 as a property of the Viscounts of Aosta, the Challant family. At that time it probably was a simple keep surrounded by walls. From 1320 to 1420, under the lordship of Aymon o ...
Founded: c. 1242 | Location: Fénis, Italy

Scena Castle

Scena castle, also called Castel Schenna, has first been documented in 1346, but this refers to a forerunner of the building. Only Petermann from Scena, burgrave from Tyrol and minion of Margaret, Countess of Tyrol, had the castle complex built in 1350, the way it appears today. In the years to follow the castle repeatedly changed hands. Among the famous owners there were the Lords of Starkenberg, the Counts of Lichtenst ...
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Schenna, Italy

Rocca Borromeo di Angera

The Rocca Borromeo di Angera, also called Borromeo Castle, is a castle that stands on a lakeside hilltop in the limits of the town of Angera on the shores of Lago Maggiore. It is visible from across the lake from Arona, where originally stood another castle formerly owned by the Borromeo family. Before 1227, the castle belonged to the Della Torre family, who lost the possession to the Visconti after the Battle of D ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Angera, Italy

Duino Castle

Duino Castle was built by the Wallsee family in 1389 on the cliffs overlooking the Gulf of Trieste. It replaced an older castle from the 11th century. Over time, the Wallsee family disappeared and the castle, after having been used as a prison, became the residence of the Luogar and Hofer. At the end of the 19th century it became the property of Prince Alexander von Thurn und Taxis from the Czech branch of the House of T ...
Founded: 1389 | Location: Duino, Italy

Bassano del Grappa Castle

The fortifications in Bassano del Grappa was mentioned already in 998. Bishop of Vicenza donated the town in the late 12th century to Ecelo I, founder of later powerful family of Ezzelini. The oldest structures of castle still present date from the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1411 during the war between the Republic of Venice and the Kingdom of Hungary its fortifications resisted the attacks of Emperor Sigismund of Lux ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bassano del Grappa, Italy

Conversano Castle

The Castle of Conversano is located on the highest point of the hill on which the city stands in a position able to dominate the whole surrounding territory to the sea, and borders the old Largo della Corte, a large irregularly shaped square always at the heart of the city life. The castle was the residence of the Counts of Conversano for almost seven centuries, ever since Norman times. Yet his story is much older, ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Conversano, Italy

Vieste Castle

For its strategic position, Vieste was always one of the greatest landmarks of defense of the Gargano and preserved until 1846 the title of Piazza d'Armi. All the rulers of the Kingdom of southern Italy, Normans to the Bourbons have always held in the highest regard this advanced place of the Adriatic Sea. The castle, that dominates with its imposing the medieval district is traced back to the second half of the 11th cen ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Vieste, Italy

Ceglie Messapica Castle

The Castello Ducale in Ceglie Messapica dates from Norman times and has been rebuilt and expanded several times over the centuries. Together with the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, it dominates the historic city center. Between the 12th and 13th centuries, under Hohenstaufen and Angioin rule, the first extensions of the castle were carried out with the construction of further fortifications, including the three round ...
Founded: 1070-1100 | Location: Ceglie Messapica, Italy

Fortezza Firmafede

In 963 AD Emperor Otto I granted to Adalberto Bishop of Luni ownership of the castrum Sarzanae, a fortified village where today the fortress of Sarzanello is located. Cittadella or Fortezza Firmafede was the first fortress in the city built in 1249. It was destroyed by the Firenze army led by Lorenzo de Medici in 1487 and rebuilt after the war by Medici. It was reconquered by Genoa Republic in 1494. Today the massive sq ...
Founded: 1487 | Location: Sarzana, Italy

Desenzano Castle

The ancient Desenzano castle was originally built around the year 1000. Enlarged at the end of the 15th century, the castle never became a real military fort, but served primarily as a refuge for the population. The plan of the castle is an irregular rectangle, with the tower that stands out at the entrance on the northern side, protecting the drawbridge, which loopholes for the chains are still preserved. The castle is o ...
Founded: c. 1000 | Location: Desenzano del Garda, Italy

Ligny Tower

Ligny Tower is a coastal watchtower built between 1671 and 1672 at a strategic position on the city"s western coast. Today, the tower is in good condition, and it is open to the public as an archaeological museum. Ligny Tower was built on a narrow strip of land on Trapani"s western coast, to defend the city from attacks by the Barbary corsairs. It was named after the Viceroy of Sicily, Claude Lamoral, 3rd Princ ...
Founded: 1671 | Location: Trapani, Italy

Branzoll Castle

Branzoll Castle was built around the year 1250 by the Lords of Sabiona. Between 1465 and 1671, it was the site of the Prince-Bishop"s court judge. In 1671, it was destroyed in a fire. In 1895, reconstruction began. While the castle-keep still contains parts of the former fortress, the residential tract is completely new. The view from the church square of the buildings on both sides and the castle looming over it all ...
Founded: 1250 | Location: Chiusa, Italy

Bruneck Castle

Bruneck (Brunico) Castle lies on the top of the hill that dominates Brunico, the city on the Rienza river. In the middle of the 13th century , the bishop of Bressanone, Bruno von Kirchberg, commissioned the building of the castle in order to protect his lands in the Val Pusteria, laying the foundations for the city of Brunico. The interiors of the castle host numerous emblems of the bishops who lived here: Albert von Enn ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Brunico, Italy

Caccamo Castle

The Castello di Caccamo is among the largest and best preserved Norman castles in Sicily, and one of the largest in Italy. The castle is built on a steep cliff. The castle as it is today was built by Matthew Bonnellus in the 12th century. It was later modified by the Chiaramontes in the 14th century, and by other rulers until the 17th century. Caccamo castle is a large structure built of white stone, having an irregular ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Caccamo, Italy

Mesagne Castle

Mesagne Castle probably dates back to the 11th century, but the royal fortress we see today was designed and built by renowned military leader Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo in 1430. Since then, alterations have been made but there are traces of its use as a fortress. The castle consists of two main parts: the oldest one is the quadrangular tower which has three floors, the other includes the rooms on the ground an ...
Founded: 1430 | Location: Mesagne, Italy

Scicli Castle

The first development at Scicli was around the Castello dei tre cantoni at the top of San Matteo hill that overlooks the town. The Castello dei tre Cantoni is actually composed of two separate fortifications, the Castelluccio higher up and the Castellaccio at a lower level. This was a defensive structure that, over the centuries, was enlarged and used first by the Arabs, then by the Normans and then later as a military o ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Scicli, Italy

Episcopio Castle

The construction of the Episcopio Castle belongs to the Archbishopric of Taranto, and still today represents the temporal power that the Italian bishops have exercised over the city. There is no information of the dates of construction but we know with certainty that the original nucleus already existed in the 15th century. The castle was never used for defensive purposes, but was built as an aristocratic dwelling unde ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Grottaglie, Italy

Somma Lombardo Castle

Buildings at the site of Somma Lombardo Castle date from the 9th century and the fortress from the 13th century. In 1448, the brothers Francesco and Guido Visconti, took refuge in this town and castle from the forces of the Ambrosian Republic. They divided the landholdings and portions of the castle. The fortress has been amalgamated from adjacent residences, all once surrounded by a single moat. From the brother Francesc ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Somma Lombardo, Italy

Thun Castle

The monumental Thun Castle was built in the mid-13th century, but the current appearance dates mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish style gate built in 1566 in Moorish style, probably after Giorgio Thun was visited in Spain. The most famous room is the seventeenth-century Bishop's Room, entirely covered of pine wood, with a coffered ceiling and a tiled stove. Today Thun castle is open to the public.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ton, Italy

Soncino Castle

Soncino Castle was built originally in the 10th century to defend the borough from the marauding Hungarians. In 1200 it was besieged several times by the armies of Milan and Brescia, and in 1283, after being destroyed by the attacks of those armies, the commune of Soncino decided to rebuild the castle. In 1312 the castle was occupied by the Cremonese army, and in 1391 by the Milanese army, using it during the war aga ...
Founded: 1468 | Location: Soncino, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Petersberg Citadel

The Petersberg Citadel is one of the largest extant early-modern citadels in Europe and covers the whole north-western part of the Erfurt city centre. It was built after 1665 on Petersberg hill and was in military use until 1963. It dates from a time when Erfurt was ruled by the Electors of Mainz and is a unique example of the European style of fortress construction. Beneath the citadel is an underground maze of passageways that can be visited on guided tours organised by Erfurt Tourist Office.

The citadel was originally built on the site of a medieval Benedictine Monastery and the earliest parts of the complex date from the 12th century. Erfurt has also been ruled by Sweden, Prussia, Napoleon, the German Empire, the Nazis, and post-World War II Soviet occupying forces, and it was part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). All of these regimes used Petersberg Citadel and had an influence on its development. The baroque fortress was in military use until 1963. Since German reunification in 1990, the citadel has undergone significant restoration and it is now open to the public as a historic site.