Rafenstein Castle

Bolzano, Italy

The romantic ruin of Rafenstein castle rises high above the city of Bolzano at the entrance of Val Sarentino. The complex was constructed in the 13th century by the Bishop of Trento Friedrich von Wangen in order to control the commercial relationship between north and south and in order to keep the sovereignty of Bolzano. As this is also where an important commercial road passed by, this castle in the Mediaeval and still in early modern times was rather significant.

In these days Castel Rafenstein was only composed of a great hall, a low donjon as well as a circular wall. Only in the 14th century an outer ward, a bastille and a southern wing were added to the complex. In 1357 the castle was owned by Franz von Ravenstein. As his son died very early, the possession was handed over to the Goldegg family, thereon it was bequested to the Weinecker family. From 1500 to 1599 Sigmund Gerstl and Hans Wueff owned the castle, afterwards the Earls of Wolkenstein took it over.

The most significant construction phase of Castel Rafenstein took place in the 16th century, when the Mediaeval complex became a late Gothic building. Only in the 19th century, when they did no longer inhabit the castle, it began to decay. After extensive stabilisation works and renovation works in the last years, the ruin of Castel Rafenstein is now accessible again to the public. Closeby there’s a restaurant, named “Schloss Rafenstein”, offering homemade South Tyrolean specialities.



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Via Rafenstein, Bolzano, Italy
See all sites in Bolzano


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

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4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Matteo Bertoldi (3 months ago)
You eat well (Frittatensuppe and veal cutlet), drink a little less (avoid the loose St. Magdalena, bad) and the outdoor terrace is splendid, with a view over the whole of Bolzano. Unfortunately, however, the service was unsatisfactory: when we arrived, our reserved table was not yet available, which is why we sat outside. The bread, despite having been requested several times, never arrived, the table was prepared in the best possible way. To a hint of criticism the answer was "we have too many tables and too few staff"; it is better to change something.
Mr. X (4 months ago)
Very good, down to earth. Adventurous approach
Margret SE (2 years ago)
Cozy place
Isabel Biasion (2 years ago)
Die Lage ist schön. Service ist nicht freundlich (wir wurden weder freundlich begrüßt noch willkommen geheißen) es ist nicht normal dass die Gäste die Gastgeber begrüßen. Das Essen war durchschnittlich bzw. es wurde die falsche Bestellung gebracht(statt Rindfleisch, Kalbfleisch). Jedoch meldeten wir dies nicht da wir bereits 45minuten darauf warteten. Es ist normal dass viel zu tun ist, jedoch hatten alle um uns herum bereits gegessen. Leider bin ich ziemlich enttäuscht, war bereits vor 2 Jahren zu Ostern da und es war top. Aber heute kann ich dies leider nicht sagen! Wir wurden als Gäste nicht geschätzt und dies wurde uns auch mitgeteilt.
Andrea Gelmetti (2 years ago)
Posto incantevole, che domina la città di Bolzano. Per arrivarci abbiamo fatto una strada asfaltata, molto ripida, circa il 35% di pendenza (il difficile è stato scendere). Ci si può arrivare anche in auto, c'è il parcheggio. Si mangia bene ed i prezzi sono inferiori a quelli del centro di Bolzano. Ci tornerò sicuramente!
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Glimmingehus, is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).

Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.

Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.

An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

On site there is a museum, medieval kitchen, shop and restaurant and coffee house. During summer time there are several guided tours daily. In local folklore, the castle is described as haunted by multiple ghosts and the tradition of storytelling inspired by the castle is continued in the summer events at the castle called "Strange stories and terrifying tales".