Sigmundskron Castle (Castel Firmiano) is an extensive castle and set of fortifications near Bolzano in South Tyrol. The first historical mention of the castle dates back to AD 945. In 1027 Emperor Conrad II transferred it to the Bishop of Trent. In the 12th century it was given to ministeriales, who from then on were named the Firmian family. Around 1473 the Prince of Tyrol, Duke Sigismund the Rich, bought the castle, renamed it Sigmundskron Castle and had it developed to withstand firearms. Of the old castle there are only a few remnants left today, mostly located on the highest point of the site. Due to financial difficulties Sigmund had to pledge the castle soon afterwards. As a result the site fell increasingly into disrepair.
At the end of the 18th century the castle belonged to the Count Wolkenstein, from 1807 to 1870 the counts of Sarnthein and from then until 1994 the counts of Toggenburg. In 1976, the half-ruined castle was partially restored by an innkeeper's family and opened as a restaurant. In 1996 the castle passed into the possession of the Province of Bolzano. In the spring of 2003, after much controversy, Reinhold Messner was given a licence for his long-planned mountain museum.
During construction work a Neolithic grave was discovered in March 2006, in which a woman's skeletal remains were found. The age of the grave is estimated to be 6,000-7,000 years.
The fortress is an important political symbol in South Tyrol. In 1957, under the leadership of Silvius Magnago, the largest protest rally in the history of South Tyrol was held here. More than 30,000 gathered in the castle to protest against the failure of the Paris Convention to protest and demand freedom for South Tyrol.References:
Ängsö Castle was first named as "Engsev" in a royal charter by king Canute I of Sweden (r. 1167-1196), in which he stated that he had inherited the property after his father Eric IX of Sweden. Until 1272, it was owned by the Riseberga Abbey, and then taken over by Gregers Birgersson.
From 1475 until 1710, it was owned by the Sparre family. The current castle was built as a fortress by riksråd Bengt Fadersson Sparre in the 1480s. In 1522, Ängsö Castle was taken after a siege by king Gustav Vasa, since its owner, Fadersson's son Knut Bengtsson, sided with Christian II of Denmark. However, in 1538 it was given by the king to Bengtsson's daughter Hillevi Knutsdotter, who was married to Arvid Trolle.
In 1710, the castle was taken over by Carl Piper and Christina Piper. Ängsö Castle was owned by the Piper family from 1710 until 1971, and is now owned by the Westmanna foundation. The castle building itself was made into a museum in 1959 and was made a listed building in 1965. It is currently opened to visitors during the summers.
The castle is a cubical building in four stores made by stone and bricks. The lower parts is preserved from the middle ages. It was redecorated and expanded in the 1630s. The 4th storey as well as the roof is from the expansion of Carl Hårleman from 1740-41. It gained its current appearance in the 1740s.