Malcesine Castle

Malcesine, Italy

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 been found within the castle walls. Most of the structures visible today date to the period of the della Scala. The bell of the castle was cast in 1442 and it is still in service.

In September 1786, Johann Wolfgang Goethe was questioned by the local magistrate on suspicion of being an Austrian spy after drawing sketches of the castle, and recalled the incident in his published travel report Italienische Reise (Italian Journey). During the period of Austrian rule, which ended in 1866 after the Third Italian War of Independence, major renovation work took place inside the castle. The Austrians turned it into a military garrison and the munition store they constructed was later used by the Guardia di Finanza of the Kingdom of Italy as a prison. Since 1902, the castle has been a national monument.

Today, the castle contains a small museum on the natural history of Lake Garda and Monte Baldo. One room in the Austrian powder magazine is dedicated to Goethe and his visit.

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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Italy

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4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

marlene womack (10 months ago)
We enjoyed the wedding we attended there last Saturday. It was a beautiful setting and the ceremony was especially lovely. We toured the castle yesterday but I was too tired to climb all the stairs. My daughter explored everywhere. The views are fantastic!
S B (10 months ago)
Went here for a wedding. Very nice castle and grounds, however we didn't have to pay and there was a big queue when leaving. Something to consider! The climb to the top of the castle is also very step and narrow, so would not be ideal for anyone with mobility issues.
Katja Lauri (12 months ago)
A very nice small castle overlooking lake Garda. There's a nice small interactive natural history museum and other exhibitions too. Great views. Visited with children, they also liked it. Well worth the entrance fee!
Bedside Muffin (12 months ago)
Beautiful castle. Amazing sights. Could happily spend half a day here. Lovely little museums inside full of information. You can climb up the tower. You can also view where they hold wedding ceremonies, it looks amazing.
Ben Johnson (12 months ago)
Good for a walk around. One or two of the exhibits are interesting. The tower is a fun climb up some steep steps and you get a good view at the top.
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Sirmione Castle

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.