Medieval castles in Lombardy

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle was built in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, on the remnants of a 14th-century fortification. Later renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe. Extensively rebuilt by Luca Beltrami in 1891–1905, it now houses several of the city"s museums and art collections. History The original construction was ordered by local lord ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Milan, Italy

Sirmione Castle

Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a stai ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Sirmione, Italy

Visconti-Sforza Castle

The Visconti-Sforza Castle is a Middle Age castle located in the centre of the city of Vigevano, Lombardy.  Luchino Visconti, Lord of Milan and ruler of Vigevano since 1337, began to transform the existing fortification into a local residence for his family. The construction was continued by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, first Duke of Milan, and completed by his heirs, Ludovico il Moro and his grandchild Gian Galeazzo Sforza. ...
Founded: c. 1337 | Location: Vigevano, Italy

St. George Castle

The Castle of St. George (Castello di San Giorgio) was built from 1395 and finished in 1406 under commission by Francesco I Gonzaga, designed by Bartolino da Novara, one of the most renowned military architects of the time. It has as square plan with four corner towers, surrounded by a ditch with three entrances, each one with a drawbridge. In 1459 architect Luca Fancelli, commissioned by marquis Ludovico III Gonzaga ...
Founded: 1395-1406 | Location: Mantua, Italy

Brescia Castle

Brescia Castle on the rocky hill is the ancient part of Brixia, Roman city established in the 1st century BCE. The castle is called the 'Falcon of Italy' because of its position on the summit of the hill, where it overlooks the city from above. It is one of the largest fortified complexes in Italy with 75,000 square metres enclosed within its surrounding walls. The old Venetian-Visconti stronghold dominates the city and ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Brescia, Italy

San Vigilio Castle

Representing a clearly visible symbol of power, San Vigilio Castle has been the residence of Bergamo’s numerous rulers for centuries. It is located 496 meters above the sea level, on top of the hill that gives it its name, overlooking the Città Alta: that’s why it used to have a strategic role in case of attacks. The circle plan of the building resembles a star, featuring the four towers called Castagneta, Belvedere, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bergamo, Italy

Visconti Castle

The Visconti Castle in Pavia was built in 1360 by Galeazzo II Visconti, soon after the taking of the city, a free city-state until then. The credited architect is Bartolino da Novara. The castle used to be the main residence of the Visconti family, while the political capital of the state was Milan. North of the castle a wide park was enclosed, also including the Certosa of Pavia, founded 1396 according to a vow ...
Founded: 1360 | Location: Pavia, Italy

Vezio Castle

Castello di Vezio is a castle located nearby Varenna and Perledo. Characterized in the main tower by square merlons, similar to Cly Castle in Aosta Valley, it commands the Lake Como. It was once connected by walls to the village of Varenna below. The castle was built in the late 11th-early 12th century and was restored several times in the following centuries. In the late 19th century and in 1956 remains of tombs from th ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Varenna, 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

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

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

Lonato Castle

The Lonato medieval castle 'La Rocca' rises on a hill which dominates the southern part of Lake Garda and is one of the most impressive castles in all of Lombardy. Set inland, overlooking the ancient town of Lonato, the Rocca is an imposing structure nearly 180 meters long and 45 meters wide, complete with drawbridge! Throughout the years and centuries, Lonato del Garda was ruled by various peoples and families who fough ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Lonato, Italy

Trezzo sull'Adda Castle

The Castle of Trezzo sull"Adda is located on a hill within a bend of the Adda river and from this protected on two sides. On the remaining side it is closed by a wall and a 42-meter high tower. Part of the castle was the fortified bridge over the river, destroyed in 1416. The site was inhabited since prehistoric time by Celtic populations and after the VII century hosted a Longobard settlement, which was als ...
Founded: 1370 | Location: Trezzo sull'Adda, Italy

Somasca Castle

Castello dell’Innominato ('the unnamed castle') history dates back to the Carolingian period. At that time on the hill of Somasca, the upper district of Vercurago, there was a signalling tower, that became a fortress some centuries later (documented in 1158). From 1454 this land felt into the clutches of the Republic of Venice and the Adda River became the natural border between the Serenissima (Venice ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lecco, Italy

Legnano Castle

Castello Visconteo in Legnano dates back to the 13th century. The origins of the castle are connected to an ancient convent of Augustinian Regulars, whose presence has been documented since 1231. It has been restored in the 2000s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Legnano, Italy

Monzambano Castle

Monzambano Castle dates from the 11th century by Matilda Canossa. Later it was owned by the Scaligeri and Visconti families until lost its purpose in the 18th century.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Monzambano, Italy

Lodi Castle

From the 14th century Lodi was ruled by the Visconti family, who built a castle there. The castle was built between 1355-1370 and was enforced in the next century. Today only some parts of the castle remain.
Founded: 1355 | Location: Lodi, Italy

Oldofredi Castle

The Oldofredi castle was one of three fortifications built to defend Montisola: the second was the fortress Oldofredi Martinengo in Sensole and the third was in Siviano. Like the Sensole castle, with which it is often confused in many sources, the Peschiera castle was also owned by the Oldofredi family. A tower may be used by Frederick Barbarossa in 1162 as a military observation point. The first document attesting the pr ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Iseo, Italy

Malpaga Castle

An early medieval castle in Malpaga had been in ruins after a raid in the 1440s. In 1456, the condottiero and nobleman Bartolomeo Colleoni acquired the ruined castle from the commune of Bergamo. He enlarged and enriched it not only as a military base for his troops, but also as a seigneurial residence, in the typical Italian Renaissance fashion. The castle layout is square, surrounded by two lines of walls and a ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Malpaga, Italy

Villimpenta Castle

Villimpenta Castle was built in the 11th century asa fortified monastery. It was restored and strenghtened in the 14th century by Scaligeri family. Today towers and curtain walls exist.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Villimpenta, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Fougères

The Château de Fougères is an impressive castle with curtain wall and 13 towers. It had three different enclosures, first for defensive purposes, second for day to day usages in peacetime and for safety of the surrounding populations in times of siege, the last enclosure was where the keep was situated.

The first wooden fort was built by the House of Amboise in the 11th century. It was destroyed in 1166 after it was besieged and taken by King Henry II of England. It was immediately rebuilt by Raoul II Baron de Fougères. Fougères was not involved in the Hundred Years' War until 1449 when the castle was taken by surprise by an English mercenary. In 1488 the French troops won the castle back after a siege and the castle lost its military role.

In the late 18th century the castle was turned into a prison. The owner in this period was the Baron Pommereul. In the 19th century the outer ward became an immense landscaped garden. A museum was established in the Mélusine Tower. During the Industrial Revolution, a shoe factory set up shop in the castle grounds.

The City of Fougères took ownership of the Château in 1892. It had been a listed Historical Monument since 1862. A major campaign was launched to clean up the castle walls. While the castle had retained many of its original features, some of the curtain walls needed to be cleared and certain sections required major repairs. The changes made in the 18th century were "reversed," and the castle was finally open to visitors. The first campaign of archaeological excavations, conducted in 1925, unearthed the ruins of the manor house.

Since then, the Château de Fougères has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors every year. The castle's excellent state of conservation, and the historical interest of its architecture, make Fougères an invaluable window onto the Middle Ages. From great lords to simple builders, generations of inhabitants have left their mark on these walls.