Medieval castles in Veneto

Cittadella

Cittadella is a medieval walled city founded in the 13th century as a military outpost of Padua. The surrounding wall has been restored and is 1,461 metres in circumference with a diameter of around 450 metres. There are four gates which roughly correspond the points of the compass. The town was founded in 1220 by the Paduans to counterbalance the fortification of Castelfranco. It was built in successive stages in a poly ...
Founded: 1220 | Location: Cittadella, Italy

Illasi Castle

Illasi Castle was built in the 12th century. The structure, composed by a fortified palace and a single tower, surrounded by a wall, is extremely peculiar and almost unique in Europe. It is still unclear which lord built it. It already existed when the tyrant Ezzelino da Romano used it as a base for his wars. Later it became one of the main strongholds during the domination of the Della Scala family, lords of Verona. It ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Illasi, Italy

Villafranca Castle

The Castle of Villafranca di Verona was built starting in 1199, after the Battle of Ponte dei Molini (Mantua), and was completed in 1202. The purpose was to defend the population of Villafranca in casa of sudden attacks from Mantua. Serraglio, a defensive wall unique in Europe, was built in 1345. It is about 13 miles long. It started from Borghetto and linked five castles: Borghetto, Valeggio, Gherla, Villafranca and Nog ...
Founded: 1199 | Location: Villafranca di Verona, Italy

San Pietro Castle

Verona was founded to the site of current Castel San Pietro. This green hill, crowned by cypresses, is home to the remains of the first settlements dating back to the 7th century B.C. From this magnificent vantage-point you can enjoy the view of the whole city spreading out, with its network of Roman Roads, its walls, tall towers and steeples and, if your eyesight is good, you can even make out part of the Arena and the P ...
Founded: 1393 | Location: Verona, Italy

Rocca di Asolo

According a tradition there has been a defensive complex here since pre-Roman times. The Rocca fortress was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The last military operation took place in 1510 and after that Rocca was moved as hospital and private use.  The fortress was involved in his latest war episode in 1510 . Gradually Persa"s strategic importance, the structure was used as a variety of uses also be ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Asolo, Italy

Bassano del Grappa Castle

The fortifications in Bassano del Grappa was mentioned already in 998. Bishop of Vicenza donated the town in the late 12th century to Ecelo I, founder of later powerful family of Ezzelini. The oldest structures of castle still present date from the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1411 during the war between the Republic of Venice and the Kingdom of Hungary its fortifications resisted the attacks of Emperor Sigismund of Lux ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bassano del Grappa, Italy

Bevilacqua Castle

Bevilacqua Castle is considered one of the finest examples of its kind on Veronese territory. It was erected in 1336. Guglielmo Bevilacqua and his son, Francesco, were both commissioned by the Della Scala (Lords of Verona) to erect it. Originally erected for purely military purposes, the castle was damaged during the period of League of Cambrai and lost its strategic importance during the reign of the Venetian Republic. ...
Founded: 1336 | Location: Bevilacqua, Italy

Malcesine Castle

Malcesine"s most prominent landmark is the Castello Scaligero, which has 13th-century fortifications and an older medieval tower in white natural stone. Like the castle of Sirmione at the southern end of the lake, it is named for the della Scala family of Verona who ruled the region in the 13th and 14th centuries, and has the characteristic swallow-tail Ghibelline merlon crenallations. Remnants of an Etruscan tomb ha ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Malcesine, Italy

Castelvecchio

Castelvecchio ('Old Castle') is the most important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty that ruled the city in the Middle Ages. The castle stands on the probable location of a Roman fortress outside the Roman city. Lord Cangrande II della Scala had it built along with its bridge across the Adige River as a deterrent to his powerful neighbors such as Venice, the Gonzaga and the Sforza families. Construction was ca ...
Founded: 1354 | Location: Verona, Italy

Monselice Castle

Monselice town is known of an imposing architectural complex called Castello Cini, which incorporates several diverse types of building. From the 6th to the 16th centuries the castle has changed from a luxurious residence, to defensive tower to become a Venetian villa.The Castle is made up, in fact, of four main nucleuses: the most ancient part is the Roman house (Casa Romanica, 11th century) which together with the Caste ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Monselice, Italy

Soave Castle

Soave castle cas built in 934 to protect the area against the Hungarian invasions. It was remodelled by Cansignorio of the Scaliger family in the mid-1300s. in 1365 Cansignorio had the town walls erected and the Town hall was built in the same year. The castle underwent various vicissitudes until, having lost its strategic importance, it was sold on the private market in 1596. In 1830 it was inherited by Giulio Camuzzoni ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Soave, Italy

Asolo Castle

Asolo Castle dates back to the 10th century although there is no definite information indicating the origins of the complex. In 1242 it was home to Ezzelino da Romano and, from 1339, it became the seat of the podestà of Venice. At the end of the 14th century it was merged with the city walls. Three of the four towers it still remain: the Civic or Bell tower, the Reata tower acting as a gaol and the Carro tower, nowadays ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Asolo, Italy

Arzignano Castle

A primitive castle was built in the 10th or 11th century on the highest hill on Arzignano, where now stands the church of St. Matthew. Scaligeri family, who in 1312 became masters of town, erected fortifications to the current site, consist of a ring of walls of 650 meters, with 2 door, 10 turrets and fortress.
Founded: c. 1370 | Location: Arzignano, Italy

Valeggio Castle

Valeggio Castle, situated on tall spurs overlooking the River Mincio, bears the typical characteristics of a Della Scala castle, even if it was most probably built on a pre-existing structure. The Scaligeri family realised its strategic importance and erected a castle featuring the typical massive walls, square towers, battlemented keep, draw-bridge and passage guarded by a tower which is shorter than the others. The cast ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Valeggio sul Mincio, Italy

Conegliano Castle

Starting from its foundation in the 11th century, Conegliano featured an innovative type of fortified settlement, common to several towns of the area, such as Bassano and Marostica. A fortified area on the top of the hill, with the below village which spreads along the Monticano river and at the feet of the main hill. The old Castle used to include a smaller walled area with several towers, also protected by moats. Withi ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Conegliano, Italy

Torri del Benaco Castle

The present castle at Torri del Benaco (Castello Scaligero) was built by Antonio della Scala in 1383 to the ruins of a older castle dating back to the Xth century. The West Tower of older castle still remains. In 1760 the second curtain wall was torn down to make way for the Lemon Grove. The decline of the castle ended in 1980 when the Commune of Torri started complete restoration under the architect Rudi Arrigo.
Founded: 1383 | Location: Torri del Benaco, Italy

Marostica Castles

Marostica area became under the rule of Cangrande I della Scala in 1311. Next year he founded two castles in Marostica, the lower (Castello Inferiore) and upper (Castello Superiore) castle.  The lower castle in the city center is rectangular. After the War of the League of Cambrai, the mayor moved his headquarters from upper to lower castle. The upper castle is a square form building with four little towers on the sides ...
Founded: 1312 | Location: Marostica, Italy

Lazise Castle Ruins

This fortified town of Lazise was first mentioned in a document dated 983 AD, yet the present castle was erected during the reign of Bartolomeo and Antonio della Scala, as evidenced by the fact that the castle bears their initials in several places. The castle was at one time protected by draw-bridges and heavy gates. Judging by its size, the castle presumably served to offer protection (in time of strife) not only to the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Lazise, Italy

CastelBrando

CastelBrando, former Castrum Costae, is a medieval castle situated on a dolomite limestone rock overlooking the villages of Cison di Valmarino and Valmareno. The name CastelBrando is due to the name Brandolini, the ancient family from Forlì, who were the Lords of the castle. CastelBrando was originally built in the Roman age as a defensive fortress in order to protect the important lines of communication which connected ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Cison di Valmarino, Italy

Montorio Castle Ruins

Montorio Castle was presumably a look-out post which was once part of the Verona city fortifications and which is first mentioned in documents dating back to 995 AD. It was subsequently rebuilt by the Aldobrandeschi in the Middle Ages and restructured by the Ottieri and then transformed into a fortified farmhouse after the annexation of the county in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Only certain sections of the structure remai ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Verona, Italy

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São Jorge Castle

São Jorge Castle is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic centre of the Portuguese city of Lisbon and Tagus River. The strongly fortified citadel dates from medieval period of Portuguese history, and is one of the main tourist sites of Lisbon.

Although the first fortifications on this hilltop date from the 2nd century BC, archaeological excavations have identified a human presence in the Tagus valley as far back as the 6th century BC. The first fortification was, presumably, erected in 48 BC, when Lisbon was classified as a Roman municipality.

The hill was first used by indigenous Celtic tribes, then by Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians as a defensible outpost that was later expropriated by Roman, Suebic, Visigothic, and Moorish peoples. During the 10th century, the fortifications were rebuilt by Muslim Berber forces, these included the walls or Cerca Moura ("Moorish Encirclement").

Kingdom

In the context of the Christian Reconquista, the castle and the city of Lisbon were freed from Moorish rule in 1147 by Afonso Henriques and northern European knights in the Siege of Lisbon during the Second Crusade; this victory was the only notable success of that failed crusade. According to an oft-repeated legend, the knight Martim Moniz, noticing that one of the doors to the castle was open, prevented the Moors from closing it by throwing his own body into the breach, thus allowing Christian soldiers to enter at the cost of his own life. With the taking of the castle Christian forces were able to maintain the defense of Lisbon until the end of the 12th century.

When Lisbon became the capital of the kingdom in 1255, the castle served as the alcáçova, a fortified residence for Afonso III, in his role as governor. It was extensively renovated around 1300 by King Denis I, transforming the Moorish alcáçova into the Royal Palace of the Alcáçova. Between 1373 and 1375, King Ferdinand I ordered the building of the Cerca Nova or Cerca Fernandina, the walled compound that enclosed the entirety of the castle. The master builders João Fernandes and Vasco Brás were responsible for its construction. This wall, which partially replaced the old Moorish walls, was designed to encircle previously unprotected parts of the city. Completed in two years, it had 77 towers and a perimeter of 5,400 metres.

The castle and the city resisted the forces of Castile several times during the 14th century (notably in 1373 and in 1383–1384). It was during this period (the late 14th century) that the castle was dedicated to Saint George by King John I, who had married the English princess Philippa of Lancaster. Saint George, the warrior-saint, was normally represented slaying a dragon, and very was popular in both countries.

From this point onward many of the kingdom's records were housed in the Torre de Ulisses, also known as the Torre Albarrã, until the reign of Manuel I. The Portuguese National Archive is still referred to as the Torre do Tombo. Between 1448 and 1451, the master builder was paid several stipends for his work on the palace. These public works continued until 1452, with additional payments being made for labor and materials to convert the building from a fortified castle to a royal residence.

Around the early 16th century, following the construction of the Ribeira Palace beside the Tagus river, the Palace of Alcáçova began to lose its importance. An earthquake occurring in 1531 further damaged the old castle, contributing further to its decay and neglect. In 1569, King Sebastian ordered the rebuilding of the royal apartments in the castle, intending to use it as his official residence. As part of the rebuilding, in 1577 Filippo Terzi demolished one of the towers near the principal facade of the Church of Loreto. However, many of the works were never completed after the young king's apparent death during the Battle of Alcácer Quibir. The following Portuguese dynastic crisis opened the way for sixty years of Spanish rule and the castle was converted into military barracks and a prison. On 30 December 1642, Teodósio de Frias the Younger was appointed master builder to continue the works begun by his father, Luís de Frias, and his grandfather, Teodósio de Frias. This was part of a greater plan by the Spanish forces to recommission the fortification.

However, after Portugal regained its independence following the Portuguese Restoration War, the works were taken over by the Portuguese government. On 6 November 1648, Nicolau de Langres was called upon to take over the design, execution and construction of a new fortification that would surround the Castle of São Jorge and the city walls of Lisbon. In 1650 the military architect Mateus do Couto was named master builder of the project and reconstruction took on a new formality: although the military engineer João Gillot built new walls in 1652, construction again followed Couto's plans between 1657 and 1733. In 1673, the Soldiers' Hospital, dedicated to São João de Deus, was installed on the grounds beside the Rua do Recolhimento. At the end of the 17th century the Recolhimento do Castelo was constructed along the southeast angle of the courtyard, and in 1733, new projects were initiated by master Custódio Vieira.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake severely damaged the castle and contributed to its continuing decay: apart from the walls of the old castle, the soldier's hospital and the Recolhimento were left in ruins. The necessity of maintaining a supporting military force within the capital city required expansion of the site's role of garrison and presidio. From 1780 to 1807, the charitable institution Casa Pia, dedicated to the education of poor children, was established in the citadel, while soldiers continued to be garrisoned on site. Inspired by the events of the earthquake and the following tsunami, the first geodetic observatory in Portugal was constructed in 1788 at the top of one of the towers of the castle, later referred to as the Torre do Observatório.

Republic

As part of the commemorative celebrations marking the foundation of nationhood and restoration of independence, the government of António de Oliveira Salazar initiated extensive renovations at the site. Most of the incongruous structures added to the castle compound in previous centuries were demolished and there was a partial restoration of the Recolhimento. In addition, on 25 October 1947, a monument dedicated to Afonso Henriques, presented by the city of Porto, of a replica created by Soares dos Reis (in 1887) was installed on the grounds.