Medieval castles in Trentino

San Giovanni Castle

San Giovanni Castle, located on a high rock spur near Bondone, has a breathtaking panorama. It was first mentioned in 1086 and formally in 1189. In the 15th century the castle was occupied by Milanese troops. The abandoned and decayed castle was bought by entrepreneur Milan Luigi Cavalli in 1956 who began a renovation to turn it into a private residence. Today it can be visited.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Bondone, 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

Vigolo Castle

The castle of Vigolo was erected during the Renaissance in a strategic position over the pass between Vigolana and Marzola, in order to defend the town. The first record of castle dates back to 1214. In 1254 it was besieged and destroyed. In 1424 the castle passed to the family of Murlini and later in 1477 to de Fatis, whose descendants are still the owners. The de Fatis acquired the castle in ruins and rebuilt it almost ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Vigolo Vattaro, Italy

Spine Castle

Spine Castle was built in the late 12th century and destroyed in 1348. In the 16th century the castle ruins was converted into a hunting lodge. In 1933 a serious fire almost led to complete destruction, only the southern buildings were saved while the other wings collapsed and were never rebuilt. Today only part of the castle is habitable while the rest lie to ruins, although impressive. Spine castle is not open to the p ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Comano Terme, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monreale Castle

Monreale (Königsberg in German) castle in Faedo was built by the Appiano family around 1200. During the centuries, the castle was acquired by the Counts of Tyrol , then by the Habsburgs , in the 17th century by Rubin de Cervin Albrizzi and in the 20th century by entrepreneur Karl Schmid. Today it is privately owned.
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Faedo, Italy

Segonzano Castle

The Castle of Segonzano was built in the 13th century on a rock spur, around 100 meters above the valley. The place where it"s placed was probably the site of a prehistoric hillfort. Built by Rodolfo Scancio, on the authority of the Prince-Bishop of Trento, Federico Vanga, the castle served as an important fortified site guarding the trade route passing through the Adige Valley and across the Cantilaga bridge on the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Segonzano, 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 posi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Trento, Italy

Nanno Castle

Nanno Castle wass mentioned first time in 1264. The current appearance dates mainly from the restoration made between 1520-1530. The square building is surrounded with a wall and thtree turrets. Today Nanno castle is privately owned and not open to the public.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Nanno, 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

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

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.