Medieval castles in Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Gorizia Castle

Gorizia Castle is built on the hill which dominates the city of Gorizia. The construction can be dated to around 1146, where, for the first time, the title of Count of Gorizia appears, given to Henry IV of Spanheim, which presumes the presence of a fortification on site. It is likely that an initial series of defensive structures such as a small motte-and-bailey fort with a moat and a palisade which had preceded the cons ...
Founded: 1146 | Location: Gorizia, Italy

Monfalcone Castle

Monfalcone Castle, locally known as Rocca di Monfalcone or Castello di Monfalcone, lies on a mountain north of the town with the same name. Originally a prehistoric fortified village, the site was occupied by a Roman observation tower, guarding the road from the town of Aquileia to Trieste, and later by a fortress dating back to the reign of Theoderic the Great (around 490 AD). As a stronghold of the Patriarch of Aquilei ...
Founded: c. 490 AD | Location: Monfalcone, Italy

Udine Castle

The Udine castle hill is made of drift accumulating during centuries. However, a legend about its origin says that when Attila the Hun (also called the Scourge of God) plundered Aquileia (one of the biggest cities of the Roman Empire at that time) in the year 452, he asked his soldiers to build a hill to see the Aquileia burning. This was made by filling the helmet of each soldier with ground. The first official statemen ...
Founded: 1511 | Location: Udine, 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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.