Medieval castles in Lombardy

Borromeo Castle

Borromeo Castle of Peschiera is the oldest possession of the Borromeo family in Lombardy. The family came originally from San Miniato in Tuscany. The Borromeo family became wealthy due their commercial and financial activities abroad. In 1435, Banco Filippo Borromeo & Compagni set up a branch in London. In 1432, Vitaliano Borromeo was granted to fortify Peschiera farmhouse. In the decades of the sixteenth century, t ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Peschiera Borromeo, Italy

Chignolo Po Castle

Chignolo Po Castle is a beautiful eighteenth-century patrician residence, museum of art and customs, called 'the Versailles of Lombardy'. It contains important and precious testimonies of the lavish world of Lombard and Venetian nobility. The oldest part of the castle, born as a fortress on a hill, is the great Tower, from which a long stretch of the Po (Cuneulus super Padum). It is believed that it was built ...
Founded: 740 AD | Location: Chignolo Po, Italy

Oramala Castle

Oramala Castle was built in the 11th century by the Malaspina ancestors and remained in family ownership, albeit with various interruptions, for many centuries. Around 1200, in its greatest splendor, it was a prestigious cultural center housing Provençal troubadours. The castle was refortified in 1474 against the firearms. Malaspina family owned it until the 18th century, but after that it started to decay. The restorat ...
Founded: c. 1029 | Location: Val di Nizza, Italy

Pandino Castle

The Castle of the Visconti in Pandino is a Gothic-style castle located in the center of the town of Pandino. In 1355, Bernabò Visconti, Lord of Milan commissioned a castle at the site in part to have access to the then wooded surrounding hunting preserves. The castle is a quadrangle with corner towers and an internal courtyard with a hemming ground-floor portico with stout brick columns with peaked arches, and a second f ...
Founded: 1355 | Location: Pandino, Italy

San Colombano Castle

San Colombano Castle originates probably from the 6th century AD, but if was mentioned first time in the 10th century. The current castle was built by Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor (Federico Barbarossa). During his second visit to Italy, he destroyed the existing castle, but decided to build a new one in 1164. The next reconstruction began in 1370. Later it has been conquered and rebuilt several times.
Founded: 1164 | Location: San Colombano al Lambro, Italy

Voghera Castle

Voghera Castle got its current appearance by the Visconti family in 1335–1372 and contains frescoes attributed to Bramantino. The history of castle however dates back to the 10th century.  The northern wing was restored as a residential palace in the 19th century and the moat was filled. Today is is partially restored.
Founded: 1335–1372 | Location: Voghera, Italy

Scaldasole Castle

The original Scaldasole Castle was built in the 10th-12th centuries by Campeggi family. In 1334-1404 it was owned by Folperti family, who enlarged the castle yard. Since the late 18th century it has been owned by the Carlasco family.
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Scaldasole, Italy

Gambolò Castle

Gambolò Castle was built around the year 1000 to defend the local people. It was damaged badly in the wars of 12th and 13th centuries. The current appearance dates from the 15th and 16th centuries, when it was altered into a new residence.
Founded: c. 1000 AD | Location: Gambolò, Italy

Polpenazze Castle

Built to defend against Hungarian invasions in the 10th century, Polpenazze castle was destroyed by the Visconti family at the beginning of the 15th century and reconstructed by Polpenazze in 1426. To allow the construction of the new parish church it was necessary to knock down the southern part and transform one of the towers on the walls into a bell tower. Today only the entrance to the medieval castle remains.
Founded: 1426 | Location: Polpenazze del Garda, Italy

Drugolo Castle

The Drugolo castle is located in the village with same name along the road that leads from Padenghe to Bedizzole in the morainic hills. Its construction is dated to the 10th century, perhaps by the Lombards. It has a square plan with two corner towers and is positioned on a wall that raises it considerably, has a drawbridge and Ghibelline battlements; towards the end of the 14th century the perimeter walls were rebuilt. ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Drugolo, Italy

Castel d'Ario Castle

Castel d"Ario Castle was a strategic element of a defensive system into the Mantuan territory, together with Castelbelforte and Villimpenta Castles, placed on the borderline with Veneto. Castel D"Ario Castle represents one of the main medieval fenced-in castles with a pentagonal shape. Five towers are visible, included that one at the entrance, where people can still see the location where there was a portculli ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Castel D'ario, 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

Maccastorna Castle

Maccastorna (or Belpavone) Castle was built inthe 13th century. It has been in hands of several noble families, lates Bevilacqua Veronese family owned it until 1901.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Maccastorna, Italy

Visconti-Castelbarco Castle

On the site of the current Visconti-Castelbarco Castle, a fortification had been existing at least since the 10th century. At the end of the 13th century the castle became a property of the Visconti of Milan. It was then inherited by a lineage originated by Uberto, brother of Matteo Lord of Milan, initially the Visconti di Somma and later the Visconti di Cislago. Destroyed in the 17th century, it was raised again in the ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Cislago, Italy

Cavriana Castle

Towards the 11th century Cavriana became one of the properties of Canossa and it is in this period that the first fortification was probably built. Subsequently to the Canossa the ownership of the village passes to the free Municipality of Mantua that, to defend the boundaries from the growing power of the Municipality of Verona, grants it to the family of the Riva with defensive tasks but, in the second half of the XIII ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Cavriana, Italy

Castiglione delle Stiviere Castle

The castrum in Castiglione delle Stiviere was founded probably in the 9th century, but it is much altered and restored, especially by the Gonzaga family of Mantua in the 16th century. The castle was home to a cadet branch of the House of Gonzaga, headed by the Marquis of Castiglione. Saint Aloysius Gonzaga (1568–1591) was born there as heir to the marquisate, but became a Jesuit. He died tending plague victims in Rome a ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Castiglione delle Stiviere, Italy

Frascarolo Castle

The Castello di Frascarolo (Frascarolo castle) or of Medici of Marignano is on the hill on a dominating position between Ganna and Ceresio valleys. It is believed the castle is from the early Middle Ages, perhaps the work of the Longobards, but it’s only documented in 1160 when Archbishop of Milan Oberto da Pirovano upheld a valid resistance to the advancing inhabitants of Como looking to conquer the Varese area. How ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Frascarolo, Italy

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

Camairago Castle

Camairago Castle was built in the first half of the 15th century by the order of Vitaliano I Borromeo, a nobleman from Milan. Borromeo family still owns the castle. During the first Italian War of Independence it was a headquarters of Austrian field marshall Radetzky in 1848.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Camairago, Italy

Soiano Castle

Soiano Castle overlooks the village of Soiano del Lago. It was built already in the 10th century against the Hungarian invasions and was also the meeting place for the heads of families in Chizzoline and Soiano. In order to oppose the feared Savoy army a further gate was constructed to close the castle. Currently the manor is once again the property of the Commune.
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Soiano, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.