Pagans, Pirates and Romans have all been linked with the site now occupied by Castel Church. Outside the main door can be seen the Neolithic Statue Menhir found under the floor of the church during the 19th century. At its foot lie the stone seats for the official of the medieval court of Fief St Michel. The church of ‘Our Lady of Deliverance’ to use its ancient title, was first mentioned in a papal document dated 1155. The earliest part of the church is the western half of the north aisle, dating from the last half of the 11th century or the first quarter of the 12th century.
Internally there are a number of interesting features: in the north chancel, 13th century frescos and a medieval stone credence, and an hagioscope piercing one of the tower pillars; in the south chancel, an ancient piscine, a blocked up priest’s door and a ‘hole in the wall’, thought to be the remains of a cupboard where the altar vessels were stored. Church Registers date from 1674.
Externally, growth of the building can be gauged by a number of blocked doorways and reconstructed windows. Alternatives to the church building have been accompanied by other variations which can be seen reflected in the list of Rectors. The list begins in 1262, and encompasses Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Calvanist and Anglican clergy.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.