Medieval castles in Lombardy

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

Mirabello Castle

The Mirabello Castle is located in Mirabello di Pavia in the area of the Parco Visconteo. The building today is only a wing of the original castle, which was the seat of the Captain of the Park, the authority administering the Parco Visconteo on behalf of the Visconti family. Since the 12th century the area had been occupied by a Cistercians monastery. In 1325 the Fiamberti family of Pavia acquired goods and lands ...
Founded: 1325 | Location: Pavia, 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

Casarasco Castle

Casarasco castle was built in the 9th century and is one of the oldest in the region. It was one of castles owned by the Malaspina family and was mentioned first time in 1164. The northern wing is only remaining part of the original castle. Today the castle can be reached for example by the nature trail 'Sentiero delle fontane'.
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Val di Nizza, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Glimmingehus

Glimmingehus is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).

Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.

Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.

An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

On site there is a museum, medieval kitchen, shop and restaurant and coffee house. During summer time there are several guided tours daily. In local folklore, the castle is described as haunted by multiple ghosts and the tradition of storytelling inspired by the castle is continued in the summer events at the castle called "Strange stories and terrifying tales".