Medieval castles in South Tyrol

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

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

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

Freudenstein Castle

Schloss Freudenstein was built in the beginning of the 13th century. Noble family Fuchs von Fuchsberg extended the originally two small castles complex at the end of the 16th century to an single large castle. The St. Andrew"s chapel was built in 1519 and consecrated in 1532. In the end of the 19th century, Heinrich von Siebold renovated and extended the estate into the present appearance. The castle is surrounded ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Eppan, Italy

Annenberg Castle

Annenberg castle was built in the 13th century (first mentioned in 1252). At the end of the 15th century the castle was largely extended by the lords of Annenberg and the ring wall with the four towers was laid out as a consequence of the Swabian War. The castle started to decay at the end of the 17th century.  The central Palas was restored to habitable again in the early 1900s.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Latsch, Italy

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

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

Welfenstein Castle

Welfenstein was mentioned for the first time in 1271 when it was owned by Otto Welf from the noble family of Welfsberg. Around 1600 Welfenstein was already left to decay.  From 1893 to 1897 Edgar Meyer erected an almost new castle in Neo-romanticism style.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vipiteno, 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

Sprechenstein Castle

A striking feature of Sprechenstein castle is the circular castle keep dating from the 13th century. The great hall and chapel (dedicated to St.s Erasmus) with its small winged altar as well as the murals and frescoes were created in later centuries. The castle and its works of art were hit by bombs in the Second World War and later restored. Since the end of the 18th century Burg Sprechenstein has been owned by the Auers ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Campo di Trens, Italy

Michelsburg Castle

Michelsburg castle was built around 1091. It was one of the most important castles in the western Pustertal. Today it is privately owned.
Founded: c. 1091 | Location: San Lorenzo di Sebato, Italy

Lamprechtsburg Castle

Lamprechtsburg castle consists of a simple Palas, keep, farm buildings and chapel. It is surrounded by the curtain wall. The chapel is mentioned in 1075 or 1090 and the wooden fort was replaced by stone castle in 1225 by the lords of Lamprechtsburg. In the 1570s extensive restoration work was carried out. In 1812, the estate was sold to the priest Joseph Hauptmann, whose descendants are still the castle owners.
Founded: 1225 | Location: Brunico, Italy

Obermontani Castle

Obermontani Castle was erected in 1228 by Albert II of Tyrol as defence against the Bishops of Chur. This is the place where the original handwritten copy of the 'Nibelungen' was found (now in the public record office of Berlin-Dahlem). The castle is not accessible.
Founded: 1228 | Location: Laces, 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

Wangen-Bellermont Castle

Wangen-Bellermont Castle (Castel Vanga) was built by the brothers of Albero and Berchtold von Wangen between 1209-1237 to a relatively remote location. It has been restored twice, in 1277 and 18th century. The castle is privately owned and inhabited.
Founded: 1209 | Location: Bolzano, Italy

Greifenstein Castle Ruins

Greifenstein castle was first mentioned in 1158. The castle was largely destroyed in the second half of the 13th century during the wars between Count Meinhard II of Tyrol-Gorizia and the Bishop of Trent. The reconstructed castle became property of the lords of Starkenberg after the last member of the family of Greifenstein was killed in the Battle of Sempach in 1386. Greifenstein was besieged for weeks by Duke Freder ...
Founded: c. 1158 | Location: Terlano, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.