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 have be ...
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

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.