Medieval castles in Lombardy

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

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

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

Ostiano Castle

Castello di Ostiano was built in the 15th century and finalized around 1511. It was partially demolished in 1860.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ostiano, Italy

Lozio Castle Ruins

Lozio Castle is located above the village named Villa, built in the late 13th century. Today it lies in ruins.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Villa, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Het Steen

Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp's oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.

Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt. The remaining building, heavily changed, contains a shipping museum, with some old canal barges displayed on the quay outside.

In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here you’ll also find a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in WWII.

There are some beautiful plaques on the back side of the Steen Castle at Antwerp. Canadian visitors will especially want to see the plaques thanking the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry for their part in the liberation of Antwerp, in 1944.

At the entrance to Het Steen is a bas-relief of Semini, above the archway, around 2nd century. Semini is the Scandinavian God of youth and fertility (with symbolic phallus). A historical plaque near Het Steen explains that women of the town appealed to Semini when they desired children; the god was reviled by later religious clergy. Inhabitants of Antwerp previously referred to themselves as 'children of Semini'.

At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.