Medieval castles in Liguria

Vernazza Castle

Vernazza Castle was built in the 15th century as a lookout tower to protect the village from pirates. It"s now largely a ruin except for the circular tower in the centre of the esplanade. 
Founded: 15th century | Location: Vernazza, Italy

Riomaggiore Castle

The Castle of Riomaggiore was built in the 13th century by order of Marquis Turcotti, lord of Ripalta, and it is one of the most important historical edifices in Cinque Terre. Indeed, the construction works were initiated by the marquis in 1260, but they were completed by the Genovese, after a period during which the property passed to Nicolo Fieschi. Back then, the Republic of Genoa was interested in strengthening the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Riomaggiore, Italy

Dragonara Castle

According to some historical sources, Dragonara Castle was built in the first half of the 13th century. In the second half of the 14th century, the castle, to ensure the safety of the fishing village of Camogli, was repeatedly reinforced, receiving the necessary weapons from the Republic of Genoa. In the 14th century, the Dragonara Castle was attacked several times. Well documented are the assaults made by Gian Galeazzo ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Camogli, Italy

Doria Castle

The Doria Castle of Portovenere is a proper example of Genoese military architecture, even though it has undergone some structural modifications due to the progress of fortifications and firearms. When you first glance at Castello Doria, it looks like one solid piece. But it actually consists of two distinct parts positioned at different levels and enclosed in large Cyclopean walls. The exact date of construction of the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Porto Venere, 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

Lerici Castle

One of the main sights of Lerici is its castle which since its first founding in 1152 was used to help control the entrance of the Gulf of La Spezia. The magnificent castle rises on a rocky promontory overlooking the Bay of Lerici and is considered one of the most impressive and beautiful fortification inall of Liguria. Due to its location in the Gulf of La Spezia, it has a rich history of disputes between the naval po ...
Founded: 1152 | Location: Lerici, Italy

Levanto Castle

The Castle of Levanto used to be part of the former defensive system of Levanto, the city walls, dating back to the 12th century, when the region was under the rule of the Malaspina family. The castle and the walls have been repeatedly mentioned in sundry historical documents, such that what is certain is the caste was extensively renovated during the 16th century. During the 17th century, the edifice was used as headquar ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Levanto, Italy

Apricale Village & Castle

Apricale is a picturesque small village to the north-east of Dolceacqua in western Liguria and surrounded by forested hills, included on the list of the most beautiful villages in Italy. The Lucertola Castle next to the square towards the top of the village dates from the 12th century and you can still see two towers and parts of the walls. The two churches also both contain interesting historical artefacts such as a med ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Apricale, 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

San Giorgio Castle

The Castle of San Giorgio, overlooking the city of La Spezia, originates from a watchtower with the first castle on the site being built in 1262 by the ruler of the area Nicolò Fieschi with the intension of strengthen his domination in the area. Today only the base portion of the watchtower is preserved and this is included in the upper part of the structure. In 1273 the castle was destroyed by the Genoese Republic unde ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: La Spezia, Italy

Pietra Ligure Castle

The ancient name of Pietra Ligure was La Pietra , and referred to the imposing calcareous rock that is found to the east of the historical center, above which the Roman castrum was built. The castle, enlarged in the period of the barbarian and Saracen invasions (6th-9th century), was a bishop ‘s property and reached its present size in the 16th century. It is believed that this natural barrier, easily defensible, consti ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pietra Ligure, Italy

Varese Ligure Castle

The most interesting monument to visit in Varese Ligure is the ancient castle which is now a private property. It was built in 15th century and it was the abode of leaders of the town. The building took a part of an original defence structure of the town. In the Middle Ages was created a Borgo Rotondo (Round Hamlet) and the Castle completed the defence circle. Nowadays the Castle became an exhibition area where you can se ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Varese Ligure, Italy

Castelfranco Castle

The Castelfranco fort is situated on the Gottaro hill, the promontory dividing the Sciusa and Pora valleys, in a strategic location enabling the control of the coast from Caprazoppa to San Donato Cape. The building, dating back to the second half of the 14th century, underwent ups and downs: it was destroyed, reconstructed, enlarged and reduced in size again. Today it is star shaped, and stands very close to the centre of ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Finale Ligure, Italy

Sarzanello Fortress

In 963 A.D., 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. It was developed around a village of which only a few houses remain near the fort, while the remaining part was destroyed during the Austrian war of succession. In 1494, when the castle was given to Charles VIII, it had already started taking on its curr ...
Founded: 1494 | Location: Sarzana, Italy

Ameglia Castle

Ameglia Castle was mentioned from the 10th century among the castles belonging to the Bishopof Luni. Ameglia was an attractive site, as it was equipped with a court, a fish market and aport and was then supposed to have a great economic grouth. The castle was also mentioned in another document of 1174, in which it is written that the inhabitants of Pietracoperta – a territory destroyed by the Genoese - had lived in Ameg ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Ameglia, Italy

Torriglia Castle

Torriglia Castle may have been built around the year 1000. The first document dates from 1153. In 1180 it became a property of Malaspina family and later it was moved to the hands of Fieschi family. In 1392 and 1450 it was besieged. The castle was destroyed in 1799 when during the France invasion. Today it lies in ruins.
Founded: c. 1000 AD | Location: Torriglia, Italy

Monte Ursino Castle

The Mount Ursino Castle was destroyed by a fire around 900 and rebuilt on the hill.  It is mentioned in 1004 in a document and defined fortified village. After the construction of a first tower on top of the hill, the fortress was enlarged repeatedly until reaching its present form around the 15th century, embracing even the baby village in the Piana, current historical center, while it was gradually abandoned that in hi ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Noli, Italy

Santo Stefano d'Aveto Castle

Santo Stefano d"Aveto Castle controlled the roads from the Apennines to Emilia. It was probably built int the 12th century, first time documented in 1164. The castle that presents itself now is an interesting pentagonal structure with ramparts on four of the five perimetral corners. In ancient times the arms square could be reached, an area onto which the different rooms on the ground floor open, using drawbridges ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Santo Stefano d'Aveto, Italy

Andora Castle

The Castle of Andora is located on top of a hill in the valley of the River Merula. Along with St. James and St. Phillip Romanesque church the castle is considered to be one of the most important monuments in Western Liguria. The castle tower which was built between 1220 and 1240 and still remains intact.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Andora, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kromeriz Castle and Gardens

Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).

It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.

After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.

UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.

Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.