Medieval castles in South Tyrol

Leuchtenburg Castle

Leuchtenburg Castle (Castelchiaro) above Lake Caldaro towers into the sky in the surroundings of Castel Varco in the locality of Vadena. The castle was probably constructed in 1250 by the Lords of Rottenburg. The castle complex has been protected by a circular wall which protected the castle complex from assaults. Due to the fact that the position of the castle is not really well-protected it has presumably been construct ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Vadena, Italy

Lebenberg Castle

Lebenberg Castle is located in the midst of vineyards at the slopes of the Marlinger mountain. It was built by Herrn von Marling in the 13th century and in the course of time, mainly in the 16th and 17th century, adapted and enlarged to a palace of an impressive size. The castle is private property and can be visited. Worthwhile seeing is a fresco in the knight’s hall, which depicts the genealogical tree of the the Fuc ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Tscherms, Italy

Fürstenburg Castle

Furstenburg Castle was erected in the 13th century on behalf of the Bishop Conrad of Chur (1272-1282). In the 16th and 17th centuries A.D. it was however restructured according to the style of the time. The oldest part of the castle is the tower which displays walls of a three meters thick diameter.
Founded: 1272 | Location: Mals, Italy

Rotund Castle

Rotund castle was built around 900 by the bishops of Chur. In 1150 the bishop give the castle to noble family Rotund. After the family line died out in 1288 the castle has had several owners. It was restored in the 15th century. The ruin is freely accessible but there is a risk of collapse.
Founded: c. 900 AD | Location: Tubre, Italy

Vorst Castle

Vorst castle was built in the late 13th century. It has been owned by the Vorst, Gomion, Enn and Starkenberg families. Today the castle is in the possession of the Fuchs family and can not be visited.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lagundo, Italy

Trostburg Castle

The impressive Trostburg Castle in Valle Isarco hosts the South Tyrolean Castles Museum. This one of the most famous and splendid castles of South Tyrol is located on an eastern hillside on a natural rocky promontory. The history of the castle dates back to the 12th century - it has been mentioned for the first time in 1173 AD as place of residence of a certain “Cunrat de Trosperch” (Konrad of Trostberg), descending ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Waidbruck, Italy

Reifenstein Castle

Reifenstein Castle (Castel Tasso in Italian) is one of the best preserved castles of South Tyrol. The castle was first documented in 1100 AD as feud of the Bavarian Earls Lechsgmünd, while from 1110 on the castle was enfeoffed to the Lords of Stilves, who proceeded in building the castle and called it “Reifenstein”. In the following centuries the castle repeatedly changed hands, up to the year 1405, when the Lords o ...
Founded: 1100 | Location: Vipiteno, Italy

Goldrain Castle

Goldrain Castle was built in the mid-14th century. The Renaissance portions were constructed in the 17th Century by order of Count Hendl. Nowadays Castle Goldrain is owned by the Laces Municipality and the western regional district Cultural Institute.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Laces, Italy

Maultasch Castle

The ruins of Castel Neuhaus, also known as Maultasch Castle, are located above Terlano (Terlan). Castel Neuhaus is almost imperceptible from the bottom of the Adige valley, only its donjon rises into the sky. The castle was first mentioned in 1228, and was probably constructed as border fortress for the Counts of Tyrol as shelter from the Counts of Bolzano. In the second half of the 13th century slightly below the castl ...
Founded: 1228 | Location: Terlano, Italy

Lichtenberg Castle

Lichtenberg castle was first time mentioned in 1259 and probably built in the early 1200s. It was enlarged in 1315. St. Christine"s Chapel on the adjacent hill was  built in 1575 as a memorial chapel for Khuen-Belasy family.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Prato allo Stelvio, Italy

Brunnenburg Castle

Brunnenburg (Castel Fontana) is situated above the city of Merano, on the outskirts of the municipality of Tirol (Tirolo). Originally built circa 1250, the castle was completely restored and updated in the mid-20th century by Boris and Mary de Rachewiltz, who have made it their home. Today Brunnenburg  hosts an Agriculture Museum, dedicated to ethnology, ethnography and folk arts. Moreover it makes visitors familiar wit ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Tirolo, Italy

Rodenegg Castle

Rodenegg Castle (Castel Rodengo) was built by Friedrich I of Rodank in 1140. The castle is located between Sciaves and Rio di Pusteria in the municipality of Rodengo in Valle Isarco on a small rock outcrop, steeply descending into the gorge of the Rienza river. Castel Rodengo is one of the most majestic fortresses of its time in South Tyrol and you will be astonished by its position and by the large number of rooms and c ...
Founded: 1140 | Location: Rodengo, Italy

Sonnenburg Castle

Sonnenburg castle hill has almost 4000 years history. It has been an early historical settlement, Roman camp, early medieval castle complex, 750 years as a convent, stone quarry, ruins and poorhouse. In 1022 Count Volkhold gave the castle to Benedictines and it was converted as an abbey. The ruins of the apses, which grow out of the rock, archaic and replete with strength, tell of power and wealth, faith and devotion, bu ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Castelbadia, Italy

Haderburg Castle

Haderburg castle (Castel Salorno in Italian) dates back to Middle Ages and is located on a soaring rock spur above the homonymous village. The castle marks the lingual border of German (or bilingual) and only Italian speaking inhabitants (South Tyrol and Trentino). The building is one of the most important monuments of South Tyrol. Castel Salorno has been constructed by the Earls of Salorno in the 13th century. Thereupon ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Salorno, Italy

Mühlbacher Klause Castle

Mühlbacher Klause (Chiusa di Rio Pusteria) castle was built by Sigmund, Duke of Tyrol, between 1458 and the 1480"s. It replaced an older fort, built in the 13th century and which was situated about 600 meters west of the present location. Both fortifications were built here to control the passage through the Pusteria valley which was the border between the counties of Gorizia and Tyrol.  In the 18th century an ad ...
Founded: 1458-1480 | Location: Rio di Pusteria, Italy

Rubein Castle

Schloss Rubein was probably built in the 13th century by the lords of Rubein. The first document of castle dates from 1220. The major restoration took place after 1875 by the Count Brandis and later by Countess Anna Asseburg-Wolff-Metternich and his husband. Their descendants are still in possession. The 21m high tower was erected for the defensive purposes and the castle was built around it. during The late Gothic cha ...
Founded: c. 1220 | Location: Meran, Italy

Warth Castle

The Warth Castle (Burg Warth) was around 1250 to the site of earlier fortified court. Lords of Weineck made the first major reconstruction in in the mid-15th century. The residential buildings were erected in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Founded: 1250 | Location: Eppan, Italy

Haselburg Castle

The first castle built on the rock spur above Bolzano by the Lords of Haselberg dates back to the 12th century. This Haselberg castle is today known as Castle Flavon. Already in those days the fortress boasted a circular wall at its east and south flank, which could easily be assaulted. The great hall was located just above the porphry rocks. It is presumed that also a donjon already existed in these days. Only few docum ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bolzano, Italy

Rafenstein Castle

The romantic ruin of Rafenstein castle rises high above the city of Bolzano at the entrance of Val Sarentino. The complex was constructed in the 13th century by the Bishop of Trento Friedrich von Wangen in order to control the commercial relationship between north and south and in order to keep the sovereignty of Bolzano. As this is also where an important commercial road passed by, this castle in the Mediaeval and stil ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bolzano, Italy

Katzenstein Castle

Katzenstein Castle in Meran (Merano)  was mentioned in 1258. It was largely rebuilt in 1580 and extensive restorations were carried out in 1860s. In 1938 Josef Menz purchased the castle. His family it is still lives in the castle today.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Meran, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.