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

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.