Medieval castles in Lombardy

Masnago Castle

The oldest part of the Masnago castle is an 11th-century crenellated tower. The current appearance is result of a series of modifications and extensions from the Middle Ages (11th – 13th centuries) to the 18th century, is one of the most important historical buildings in Varese. The main body of the castle dates from the 15th century and gave the castle the appearance of a mansion house, as may be seen from the façad ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Varese, Italy

Baradello Castle

The Castello Baradello is a military fortification located on a 430 m high hill next to the city of Como. The castle occupies the ancient site of Comum Oppidum, the original settlement of Como, dating from the 1st millennium BC. Later it was one of the last Byzantine strongholds in the area, surrendering to the Lombards in 588. The castle was restored during the War of the Lombard League, with the help of emperor Frederi ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Como, Italy

Moniga Castle

The walls which enclose the town of Moniga del Garda were built in the 10th century to face the Hungarian invasions. The castle was founded in the same period and is still in fairly good condition. Rectangular in shape (60 × 80), there is only one entrance at the centre of the eastern wall, where signs of an old drawbridge can still be seen. The crenulated city walls have four small round lookout towers on each corner. T ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Moniga del Garda, Italy

Binasco Castle

The Visconti Castle of Binasco is famed for having been the prison of Beatrice di Tenda (Duchess of Milan and wife of Filippo Maria Visconti), who was arrested and there sentenced to death for adultery in 1418. Today it is the seat of the municipality of Binasco. The castle originated from a stronghold built by the Visconti in the 14th century to take care of their land in the area. Probably between 1315 and 1319 the n ...
Founded: c. 1320 | Location: Binasco, Italy

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

Montesegale Castle

The Castello di Montesegaleis a rural hilltop medieval fortress. It was originally built in the 14th century but over the next centuries was destroyed and rebuilt. An earlier 11th-century tower may have existed at the site. Documents from 1164 indicate that Emperor Federico Barbarossa conceded a castle or fortress at Montesegale to Pavia. The property was owned by the Count Gambarana by 1311, who became the lord of Mont ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Montesegale, 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

Bereguardo Castle

Bereguardo Castle, also called the Castello Visconteo of Bereguardo, was built in the first half of the 14th century, commissioned by Luchino Visconti to present a defense to the western borders of the Milan. It was also used as a winter residence and hunting lodge by Galeazzo II Visconti. By the 15th century some refurbishment was pursued by Filippo Maria Visconti, who also constructed the Naviglio di Bereguardo, a can ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bereguardo, 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

Massino Visconti Castle

The Visconti Castle of Massino is located on the Vergante hills in the municipality of Massino Visconti. Since the 12th century it has been a possession and one of the preferred residences of the Visconti of Milan. At that time it was frequented by the family ancestor of the lords and dukes of Milan. Afterwards its property was transferred to other collateral branches of the lineage, from the initial Visconti di Massino t ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Massino Visconti, 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 portcullis and the ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Castel D'ario, Italy

Cassino Scanasio Castle

The Visconti Castle of Crenna is linked to the fame of Lodrisio Visconti, who raised against and then reconciled with the members of the family of his cousin Matteo Visconti, Lord of Milan. In the 14th century, the castle underwent expansion and destruction according to the alternative fortunes of Lodrisio. The Visconti Castle is located on the top of the hill overlooking the Arno valley, open on the opposite side to the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Gallarate, 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

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.