Medieval castles in South Tyrol

Hofburg

Prince Bishops of Brixen commissioned the construction of their fortified castle (called Hofburg) in Brixen in the 13th century. The following centuries brought about numerous revisions to the structure. Around 1600 the splendid renaissance-style interior courtyard was created and decorated with bronze-overlaid terracotta statues by Hans Reichle, the celebrated sculptor from Augsburg. During that same period, the meeting ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Brixen, Italy

Prince’s Castle

Sigismund, Archduke of Austria, had this modest castle (Landesfürstliche Burg) built in central location of Meran in the second half of the 15th century. He probably used this fortress behind the town hall as his private city residence. However, this ensemble of buildings rather resembles an artistically designed, solid building with low enclosure than a fully-developed castle. For this reason it is simply often referred ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Meran, Italy

Scena Castle

Scena castle, also called Castel Schenna, has first been documented in 1346, but this refers to a forerunner of the building. Only Petermann from Scena, burgrave from Tyrol and minion of Margaret, Countess of Tyrol, had the castle complex built in 1350, the way it appears today. In the years to follow the castle repeatedly changed hands. Among the famous owners there were the Lords of Starkenberg, the Counts of Lichtenst ...
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Schenna, Italy

Branzoll Castle

Branzoll Castle was built around the year 1250 by the Lords of Sabiona. Between 1465 and 1671, it was the site of the Prince-Bishop"s court judge. In 1671, it was destroyed in a fire. In 1895, reconstruction began. While the castle-keep still contains parts of the former fortress, the residential tract is completely new. The view from the church square of the buildings on both sides and the castle looming over it all ...
Founded: 1250 | Location: Chiusa, Italy

Bruneck Castle

Bruneck (Brunico) Castle lies on the top of the hill that dominates Brunico, the city on the Rienza river. In the middle of the 13th century , the bishop of Bressanone, Bruno von Kirchberg, commissioned the building of the castle in order to protect his lands in the Val Pusteria, laying the foundations for the city of Brunico. The interiors of the castle host numerous emblems of the bishops who lived here: Albert von Enn ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Brunico, Italy

Sigmundskron Castle

Sigmundskron Castle (Castel Firmiano) is an extensive castle and set of fortifications near Bolzano in South Tyrol. The first historical mention of the castle dates back to AD 945. In 1027 Emperor Conrad II transferred it to the Bishop of Trent. In the 12th century it was given to ministeriales, who from then on were named the Firmian family. Around 1473 the Prince of Tyrol, Duke Sigismund the Rich, bought the castle, r ...
Founded: 945 AD | Location: Bolzano, Italy

Tyrol Castle

Tyrol Castle was the ancestral seat of the Counts of Tyrol and gave the whole Tyrol region its name. The castle hill has been inhabited since ancient times. Several artefacts and one field of graves from the early Middle Ages have been identified. Archeologists have excavated a church with three apses dating from the early Christian period. The first castle was built before 1100. The second construction phase including ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Tirolo, Italy

Maretsch Castle

Maretsch Castle (Castel Mareccio) is a picturesque 13th century castle surrounded by vineyards. The oldest tower of the castle has been built in 1194 by Berthold von Maretsch - according to documents he was a commissary of the Lords of Tyrol and lawyer in Bolzano. In the beginning there was only the massive donjon, which can still be seen today. In the 13th and 14th century different owners kept amplifying the castle com ...
Founded: 1194 | Location: Bolzano, Italy

Runkelstein Castle

Runkelstein Castle (Castel Roncolo) is a medieval fortification on a rocky spur near Bolzano. In 1237 Alderich Prince-Bishop of Trent gave the brothers Friedrich and Beral Lords of Wangen permission to construct a castle on the rock then called Runchenstayn. In 1274 it was damaged during a siege by Meinhard II of Tirol, who after winning the war against Heinrich Prince-Bishop of Trent, entrusted the castle to Gottschalk ...
Founded: 1237 | Location: Bolzano, Italy

Taufers Castle

Taufers Castle (Castel Tures) perfectly fits the scenery in which it is located, as the high mountains of the valley serve as background. In succession of “Castel Tobel” in 1100 AD, Taufers has been mentioned for the first time in 1225. In the first half of the 14th century the Lords of Taufers were in possession of the castle, but when the last member of the family died in 1349 the castle continually deteriorated. Th ...
Founded: 1225 | Location: Campo Tures, Italy

Juval Castle

Juval Castle (Italian Castel Juval) is located at the entrance of the Schnalstal valley. It derives its name from the Latin name of the mountain, Mons Jovis (mountain of Jupiter). The oldest account of the castle dates to 1278, when it was owned by Hugo of Montalban. It was probably constructed about thirty years before the first account referencing it. In 1368, it was acquired by the lords of Starkenberg, and in 1540, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Castelbello-Ciardes, Italy

Hocheppan Castle

The Hocheppan Castle with its impressive donjon is located high above Missian, a district of Eppan on the wine route (officially Eppan an der Weinstraße). Until today, it ranks among the most important fortresses in Southern South Tyrol and has some surprises in store for art lovers, panorama fans and gourmets preferring proper meals. The castle in the environs of Eppan was built in 1130 and was, already at that time, o ...
Founded: 1130 | Location: Eppan, Italy

Velthurns Castle

Velthurns (Velturno) Castle was built by Cardinal Christof Madrutz and Bishop Johannes Spaur in Renaissance style between 1577 and 1587. It was used as summer residence of the archbishops of Bressanone (Brixen) until 1803. Once the castle was known for its deer garden, the fish pond and the huge aviary for birds, today the complex itself is a sight on its own. Worth mentioning is above all the St Catherine’s Chapel o ...
Founded: 1577-1587 | Location: Feldthurns, Italy

Boymont Castle

Boymont Castle ruins are famous for the panoramic view. It was built between 1220-1240 by the relative of the Count of Eppan. Especially in the 14th century the family Boymont played an important role. After them the Castel was in the hands of the Austrian Ulrich Kässler for a short period after he married the rich daughter Barbara of Boymont in 1413. In 1425 Castel Boymont was victim of arson and has not been rebuilt ...
Founded: 1220 | Location: Eppan, Italy

Prösels Castle

Prösels Castle (Castello di Presule) was first named in a document from 1279 and it is believed that the lords of Völs, feudatories of the Bishopric of Brixen, had built the castle here by 1200. Today the central palace with a Romanesque archway are surviving parts of this first fortress. In Italian it is sometimes called Castel Colonna, reflecting the fact that around the time of Leonhard II the Völs (Fiè) family st ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Presule, Italy

Churburg Castle

Churburg Castle (Castel Coira in Italian) is one of the best preserved castles of South Tyrol. In 1259 this building was mentioned for the first time under the name “Curberch” in a document of the archbishop Heinrich von Monfort, which had the castle built around 1250. However, already in 1297 the castle passed to the Lords of Mazia, which were in constant feud with the prince-bishopric of Chur. At the beginning of th ...
Founded: 1250 | Location: Sluderno, Italy

Schloss Thurn

Schloss Thurn (Ćiastel de Tor in Italian) is a  three-storey residential tower which was built by the attendants of the bishops of Bressanone in 1230. It has first been documented in 1290. In this context the Lords of Rodank-Schöneck were feuds of the building until 1331. In the years to follow the residential tower was amplified by a crenelated circular wall and a great hall. Also the tower was modified and two store ...
Founded: 1230 | Location: San Martino In Badia, Italy

Kastelbell Castle

Kastelbell castle was built by the lords of Montalban in the 12th century. The oldest document of castle dates back to 1238. The castle was extended from 1531 by the counts of Hendl. After fires in the 19th century it was left to decay, but restored in 1987-1995.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Castelbello, Italy

Welsberg Castle

Welsberg Castle (Castel Monguelfo in Italian) lies in a strategic position above Casies Valley. The castle was built in 1140 by the two brother Schwinkher and Otto von Welsberg. This latest wanted the overhanging upon his lands. For more than 800 years the castle had been property of the von Welsbergs, one of the mightiest families in Tyrol, who obtained the title of Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1693 by the emperor ...
Founded: 1140 | Location: Welsberg-Taisten, Italy

Summersberg Castle

The oldest parts of the Summersberg castle is the round 'Witch Tower' dating from the 14th century. Extensions and additions were made between 15th and 18th centuries. From 1619 to 1828 Summersberg was owned by Counts of Wolkenstein. In 1880 Ignaz Vinzenz Zingerle bought the castle. The descendants of Zingerle still own the castle.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Gudon, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.