Brescia Castle on the rocky hill is the ancient part of Brixia, Roman city established in the 1st century BCE. The castle is called the 'Falcon of Italy' because of its position on the summit of the hill, where it overlooks the city from above. It is one of the largest fortified complexes in Italy with 75,000 square metres enclosed within its surrounding walls. The old Venetian-Visconti stronghold dominates the city and its well preserved buildings illustrate the evolution in military techniques that over time have rendered the defensive system impregnable and made it a perfect instrument to control the city for the various 'dominators' who succeeded one another in Brescia.
Walking along the path that leads from the entrance up to the top of the hill, the visitor travels through history: from 16th century military buildings (the time when Venetian domination began) to 19th century ones (the period of Austrian occupation) and then back in time again to the innermost surrounding walls built by the Visconti in medieval times.
The Castle and hill together have always been an integral part of the city. Yet, nowadays, going 'up to the Castle' means not only visiting the massive fortifications of the stronghold but also strolling in the spacious gardens within the walls or along the shady roads leading to the top of Cidneo hill.
The natural characteristics of the site were used for defensive purposes right from the time of the first settlements but have over time changed their function. The slopes of the hill, which were barren originally and covered in stones to make it easier to sight the enemy, are quite different nowadays; since the end of the 19th century they have been completely changed: tree-lined avenues have been created and monuments and stelae put up; so that the Castle has taken on a public role that is both recreational and educational.
The Visconti Keep houses the Luigi Marzoli Arms Museum, one of the most important of its kind in Europe because of the wealth of 15th and 16th century arms and armour and guns in its collections. The exhibits, of great historical and artistic interest, are set out in various sections according to type and period. there are about six hundred items on display offering significant examples of both Milanese arms production and that of Brescia, which boasts a centuries-old tradition in the sector.
The Museum of the Risorgimento is housed in the Grande Miglio (corn store), and has many interesting objects on display: documents, pictures, period prints, and historic relics. It is laid out in two sections which are devoted to the most important figures and happenings of the period ranging from the revolutionary years at the end of the 18th century to the late 19th century.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.