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

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.