In the prehistoric age on the hill of San Giusto there was a castelliere (fortified borough), which in the Roman age became an important urban centre. The fortress, built by the Venetians in the Middle Ages, was pulled down in the 14th century by will of the Patriarch of Aquileia and, in 1470 only, it was rebuilt by Friedrich II of Habsburg; the square tower and the two-storey building, which today houses the Castle Museum, date back to this period.
Under the rule of the Republic of Venice, which at the beginning of the 16th century had re-established its rule over Trieste, the castle's defences were strengthened and, under the Austrian rule again, the works continued until the building, in 1630, of the large ramparts and of the linking walls.
The fortified complex can be accessed from a ramp ending in a wooden drawbridge, over a not very wide moat; after crossing the cross-vaulted hall, you will reach the Piazzale delle Milizie (Square of the Troops), where stairs and allures lead to the ramparts.Since 1930 the castle has been a property of the Municipality, which has equipped it for tourist purposes and uses it for cultural events, shows and temporary exhibitions.
Since 2001 the Lalio rampart of the Castle of San Giusto has been housing the new Lapidario Tergestino, which preserves all the Roman stone finds that were previously displayed in the Orto Lapidario garden.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.