Medieval castles in Trentino

Rocca Castle

Rocca, a medieval castle with quadrangular bastions bounded by a canal with drawbridge, was built in 1124. It was the fortress of the noble family Scaligeri, who became the Lords of Verona. It was rebuilt several times and it was used by the Austrians as barracks in the 18th century. It is frequently the seat of cultural activities, especially during the summer months. It hosts the Civic Museum and of the Picture Gallery.
Founded: 1124 | Location: Riva del Garda, Italy

Buonconsiglio Castle

Buonconsiglio Castle was originated from a fortified building was erected in the 13th century next to the city's walls. This first building was called Castelvecchio ('Old Castle'), and was the seat of the Bishopric of Trent from the 13th century onwards to the end of the 18th century. The castle is composed of a series of buildings of different eras, enclosed by a circle of walls in a slightly elevated position above the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Trento, Italy

Beseno Castle

Beseno Castle occupies an entire hilltop dominating the Valle dell"Adige, between Rovereto and Trento. It is the largest fortified complex in Trentino and today a most fascinating showcase for exhibitions and shows. Many historical battles, from the wars between fractions with the Veronesi in the 12th and 13th centuries to the battle of 1487 between Trentino troops and the Venetians, as well as the armed battles be ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Besenello, Italy

Rovereto Castle

Castello di Rovereto is one of the best examples of late-Medieval Alpine castles. It was built by the Castelbarco family, near the Leno Torrent, in the 14th century. In the 15th century, the Venetians seized it and transformed it into a military fortress with a defensive function, equipped with four massive bastions. In 1509, following the Venetian defeat, was handed over to the Habsburgs who ruled it until the end of Th ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Rovereto, Italy

Thun Castle

The monumental Thun Castle was built in the mid-13th century, but the current appearance dates mainly from the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish style gate built in 1566 in Moorish style, probably after Giorgio Thun was visited in Spain. The most famous room is the seventeenth-century Bishop's Room, entirely covered of pine wood, with a coffered ceiling and a tiled stove. Today Thun castle is open to the public.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ton, Italy

Arco Castle Ruins

Arco Castle ruins are located on a prominent spur high above Arco and the Sarca Valley. The exact date of its foundation is unknown but it existed at least after the year 1000 AD. The area around Arco was inhabited already before the Middle Ages, the castle was said to have been built by the citizens and only later becoming the property of the local nobles. The counts of Arco, probably of Italian origin, were first menti ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Arco, Italy

Pergine Castle

Because of its strategic position guarding the Via Claudia Augusta Altinate, Historians use to think Pergine Castle rises on the site of an old prehistoric fortress, which later became a Roman settlement; later on, it was transformed into a Longobard stronghold. Erected in the 13th century, it belonged to the Dukes of Austria, under the reign of Margarete Maultasch, and then to the Emperor Maximilian I. In 1531, it becam ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Pergine Valsugana, Italy

Ossana Castle

St. Michael castle in Ossana stands on a rocky outcrop. The first written record dates back to 1191. The castle was owned by the Prince Bishops of Trento, Counts of Tyrol-Gorizia, de Federici, Heydorf and Bertelli families. Today is well-preserved with an imposing tower about 25 meters high.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ossana, Italy

Toblino Castle

Toblino is one of the most famous castles in Trentino. It owes its fame to a unique location and the beautiful environment that surrounds it, but also to the many dark legends that found a fertile ground to originate and grow in that park and among those walls. The structure is built on a small peninsula of Lake Toblino. Since the 1100s the castle was owned by the vassals of Prince Bishop of Trento, but has changed han ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Calavino, Italy

Ivano Castle

Ivano castle history dates probably to the late 6th century AD, when Longobards built a fortifications against Franks and Alemans. Later it was extended agains Hungarian invasions. The first recorded document about the castle dates back to 1187 and there is a mention of the Lord of Ivano. The Castle displays a mixture of architectural styles: the medieval walls, the Renaissance residence and the Benedictine lodge.  Fro ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Ivano-fracena, Italy

Avio Castle

The Castle of Avio (also known as Castle of Sabbionara) is one of the several castles commanding the Vallagarina valley of the Adige River. The castle is mentioned for the first time in a 1053 document as Castellum Ava. In the 12th century it was owned by the Castelbarco family, who ceded it to the Republic of Venice in 1411. The latter enlarged it and added a chapel dedicated to St. George, together with a façade showi ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Avio, Italy

Stenico Castle

A seat of power built on a spur overlooking the roads of communication towards the Valli Giudicarie, Stenico Castle dates back to more than 2000 years. It was first built as a refuge for the Stoni - a proud Alpine population exterminated by the Romans - from which the town takes its name. The castle history is closely tied to the Prince-Bishops of Trento, who also used to administer justice. Legend has it that prisoners ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stenico, Italy

Drena Castle

The well-preserved Drena Castle ruins stands on the rock overlooking the deep gorge of the Salagoni River. Built in the 12th century, Drena was probably erected over a prehistoric village. During the Middle Ages, the castle became an important stronghold to control the road connecting Trento and Lake Garda. Unassailable from the flames, the castle is defended by two rows of walls and has been constructed in a dominating ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Drena, Italy

Belfort Castle

Belfort castle was built in 1311. In 1670 it was badly damaged by fire, and was decided to be rebuilt entirely. In 1785 the castle lost its importance and was abandoned.
Founded: 1311 | Location: Spormaggiore, Italy

Tenno Castle

The impressive Tenno Castle is embedded into beautiful nature. The small medieval town Frapporta huddles against the castle. It is surrounded by the old city walls and shows how the people I the middle Ages lived in accordance with the nature. After the castle was built by the end of the 12th century it belonged to the community. Later it was passed on to different owners. Due to many fights and sieges the castle was dam ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tenno, Italy

Cles Castle

Isolated on a hummock surrounded by terraced orchards in the artificial basin of Santa Giustina, Cles Castle was built as a fortification to control the Roman road, which used to link the two banks of Stream Noce via a wooden bridge. The original ancient centre was composed of the 'Age-old Tower'. Prince-Bishop Bernardo Clesio had the castle expanded and given a Renaissance style look. At the beginning of the 1 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Cles, Italy

Noarna Castle

Dominating Lagarina valley since the 11th century, the Noarna castle was a possession initially of the Castelbarco family and later of the Lodrons. The ancient Castel Noarna served as a setting for witch trials. Located at Noarna di Nogaredo, the Castle overlooks Lagarina valley since the 11th century and probably used to be a former Roman fort. The 13th century keep consists of the main tower, topped by Guelph embatt ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Nogaredo, Italy

Caldes Castle

The large five-floor tower house from the 13th century was donated to the Thun family, who incorporated it into a new square building, the current Caldes Castle. The inside is fascinating, with vaulted ceilings, wood panelling and frescoed rooms.  Quite remarkable are the count’s room and the ballroom.  After climbing the tower’s wooden staircase, you enter a room with frescoes all over the walls, telling ancient s ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Caldes, Italy

Pietra Castle

Pietra Castle is built on a huge boulder detached from Cengio Rosso. It is located in a strategic location which marked the long border between the Italian Tyrolean territories, Bishopric of Trent and Republic of Venice. When the Venetians tried to go to the north, between the15th and 16th century , they were stopped by the Principality and the Austrians with important pitched battles that took place near the castle. It ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Calliano, Italy

Castellano Castle

The Castle of Castellano is a fortified manor house built around 1000, located in the village of Castellano, in the municipality of Villa Lagarina. It is one of the most famous castles of Vallagarina, offering a panorama of the entire valley. Owned by numerous noble families, of which the most important was the Lodron, it was later transformed into an Austrian-Hungarian fortress in World War I. It once housed frescoes, ...
Founded: c. 1000 AD | Location: Castellano, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.