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

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.