Medieval castles in South Tyrol

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moos-Schulthaus Castle

Moos-Schulthaus is composed of several residential and farm buildings and combines Castel Moos with the Schulthaus Residence. The history of both, once in separated ownership, dates back to the 13th century. In 1958 the merchant Walther Amonn from Bolzano purchased the castle and had the residence restored. In the course of these works, whitewashed frescoes of the period around 1400 AD were discovered. Since 2013 Castel M ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Eppan, Italy

Dornsberg Castle

Tarant noble family founded Tarantsberg castle in 1217, later named as Dorenberch and Dornsberg. The St. Ursula chapel was probably built between 1270 and 1280. From 1699 the castle has been owned by the counts of Mohr, Giovanelli and Fuhcs families. After the end of WWII the building was damaged, but in 1964 the Gottschall family from Munich purchased the castle complex and had it restored with the utmost effort. Sti ...
Founded: 1217 | Location: Naturno, 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

Kehlburg Castle

The Kehlburg castle was built probably in 933 By the bishop Altwin of Brixen at the hillside over Gais. The most important owners later were the noble family Rost zu Aufhofen, which had the castle in possession for nearly three centuries. After the fire in 1944 where the castle was nearly completely destroyed, the chapel of the holy Erasmus was rebuild so this was used for many years as a much visited pilgrimage. Unfortu ...
Founded: 933 AD | Location: Gais, 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

Reinegg Castle

Reinegg castle was built in the mid-13th century, and is recorded in 1263 as being owned by the countess Elisabeth von Eppan. Ten years later, ownership was transferred to count Meinhard II of Tyrol. Over the centuries, fiefs were granted to a number of different families until in 1635, Reinegg castle came under the ownership of Bolzano merchant David Wagner. In 1861 the Wagner family was elevated to Counts of Sarthein; t ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Sarentino, 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

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

Wehrburg Castle

Wehrburg Castle was built in the 13th century (the lord of Wehrburg-Andrian was already mentioned in 1229). The castle was owned by the Morand family from 1411 to 1798. They restored the castle in 1520. The chapel dates from the 15th century. Today Wehrburg is a hotel.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Prissiano, 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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.