An early medieval castle in Malpaga had been in ruins after a raid in the 1440s. In 1456, the condottiero and nobleman Bartolomeo Colleoni acquired the ruined castle from the commune of Bergamo. He enlarged and enriched it not only as a military base for his troops, but also as a seigneurial residence, in the typical Italian Renaissance fashion.
The castle layout is square, surrounded by two lines of walls and a ditch. The first line, now disappeared, included the stables and the barracks. The walls are characterized by merlons. The castle's internal walls are almost entirely frescoed, although some of them have deteriorated or been vandalized. Some frescoes celebrate the 1474 visit of King Christian I of Denmark and the sumptuous hospitality given him by Bartolomeo Colleoni, including banquets, hunting expeditions and tournaments. They were commissioned by Bartolomeo's heirs around 1520-1530 to celebrate the family's most famous member, and are attributed to Il Romanino. On the first floor are 17th-century frescoes of lesser quality.
Aside from Christian I's visit, the frescoes also depict allegories, such as that of Silence (an allusion to the secrets which should be kept by the castle's personnel), and the idealized portraits of Colleoni and the king. In the courtyard, also attributed to Romanino, is the depiction of the Battle of Molinella (or Riccardina), fought by Colleoni in 1467 near Bologna. Another 15th-century fresco of the Madonna with Child, by an unknown artist, is found in Colleoni's private studio.References:
Craigmillar is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. It began as a simple tower-house residence. Gradually, over time, it developed into a complex of structures and spaces, as subsequent owners attempted to improve its comfort and amenity. As a result, there are many nooks and crannies to explore.
The surrounding gardens and parkland were also important. The present-day Craigmillar Castle Park has fascinating reminders of the castle’s days as a rural retreat on the edge of Scotland’s capital city.
At the core lies the original, late-14th-century tower house, among the first of this form of castle built in Scotland. It stands 17m high to the battlements, has walls almost 3m thick, and holds a warren of rooms, including a fine great hall on the first floor.
‘Queen Mary’s Room’, also on the first floor, is where Mary is said to have slept when staying at Craigmillar. However, it is more likely she occupied a multi-roomed apartment elsewhere in the courtyard, probably in the east range.
Sir Simon Preston was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary, whom she appointed as Provost of Edinburgh. In this capacity, he was her host for her first night as a prisoner, at his townhouse in the High Street, on 15 June 1567. She was taken to Lochleven Castle the following day.
The west range was rebuilt after 1660 as a family residence for the Gilmour family.
The 15th-century courtyard wall is well preserved, complete with gunholes shaped like inverted keyholes. Ancillary buildings lie within it, including a private family chapel.