Medieval castles in South Tyrol

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

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

Ried Castle

Ried Castle is a rather small castle probably built around 1200. It was extended about 50 years later. Towards the end of the 13th century, the castle was owned by the von Wangen family. Today, the well-preserved castle is privately owned and can not be visited.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Bolzano, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karneid Castle

Karneid Castle was probably constructed between the late 12th and early 13th centuries by vassals of the Prince-Bishopric of Brixen, an imperial estate of the Holy Roman Empire. The fortress stands perched dramatically on an inaccessible cliff face above the confluence of the Eggental and the Eisack rivers, on the historically resonant ancient border between the kingdoms of the Lombards and the Bavarii. The name 'Karneid ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Karneid, 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

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

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

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

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Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.