Medieval castles in Friuli-Venezia Giulia

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

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

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

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

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

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Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.