Medieval castles in Lombardy

Cuasso Castle Ruins

Known as Castelasc in Lombard local language, the Castle of Cuasso is one of the most important defensive buildings in the province of Varese and Insubria. Founded in medieval times, it stands upon a hill which gives name to the whole city of Cuasso al Monte. Nowadays only ruins remain of the ancient structure. Due to the lack of written sources, the history of the castle is still, in some respects, mysterious. T ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Cuasso al Monte, Italy

Orino Castle

Rocca di Orino lies on a rocky spur. The first record dates from 1176, however some fortifications were there already in the Roman ages. The castle was a military stronghold in the struggles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines during the thirteenth century until the victory of the Ghibellines. After the Duchy of Milan was created, the castle lost its purpose. It gradually fell into disrepair.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Orino, Italy

Masegra Castle

The imposing Masegra Castle was built in the Middle Ages and strategically positioned at the opening of the Valmalenco valley so it could easily control the access to the valley. Since it was the property of the influential Salis family, it is the only castle in the town of Sondrio which wasn’t destroyed by the Grisons during their invasion of Valtellina in the 16th century. As time went by, the castle lost its orig ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Sondrio, Italy

Grumello Castle

Grumello Castle was built in the 13th century to a steep slope. It had two separate buildings, joined by a wall which has almost completely lost. The castle was destroyed in 1512.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Montagna in Valtellina, Italy

Rezzonico Castle

The Castle of Rezzonico is the concrete sign of the fortified village of Rezzonico that overlooks Lake Como. Built in the fourteenth century (1363) by the Counts Della Torre, the Castle of Rezzonico is similar for the type to the castle of Corenno Plinio in the town of Dervio.The castle covers an area of ​​about two thousand square meters and within its walls there were houses and the main tower. It was no ...
Founded: 1363 | Location: Santa Maria Rezzonico, Italy

Corenno Plinio Castle

The castle of Corenno Plinio is today one of the best preserved castles in Lombardy. Built between 1363 and 1370 on ancient Roman ruins, by will of Andreani’s family, it has a square shape, even if irregular, and two towers: a square one dated back to the 11th century and a C shape one at the castle’s entrance in Piazza Garibaldi. Piazza Garibaldi, with its pebble floor, lets you breathe the medieval past of Cor ...
Founded: 1363-1370 | Location: Dervio, 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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.