The Castello di Frascarolo (Frascarolo castle) or of Medici of Marignano is on the hill on a dominating position between Ganna and Ceresio valleys.
It is believed the castle is from the early Middle Ages, perhaps the work of the Longobards, but it’s only documented in 1160 when Archbishop of Milan Oberto da Pirovano upheld a valid resistance to the advancing inhabitants of Como looking to conquer the Varese area. However, it’s possible that the castle was only a rural fort back then.
Starting in the 12th century, it was the property of the Abbey of Ganna (or Abbey of San Gemolo in Ganna Valley), and followed destiny and plunders including the one by the Swiss Unterwalden from Mendrisio in 1511; it was purchased by Marquis of Marignano Gian Battista Medici in 1543. It was precisely with the advent of the noble Medici family that the castle was renovated and embellished. Over the centuries, it lost its defensive physiognomy to become a typical 16th-century residence.
The castle and its massive walls flaunt a mighty 15th-century tower with a rusticated portal, courtyard with a loggia, and an adjacent section built in the 16th century when it became an exclusive dwelling. The entrance hall preceded by a boulevard and large stretches of meadow inside certainly belong to another period.
The castle is still private property and cannot be toured without specific permission.References:
Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp's oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.
Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt. The remaining building, heavily changed, contains a shipping museum, with some old canal barges displayed on the quay outside.
In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here you’ll also find a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in WWII.
There are some beautiful plaques on the back side of the Steen Castle at Antwerp. Canadian visitors will especially want to see the plaques thanking the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry for their part in the liberation of Antwerp, in 1944.
At the entrance to Het Steen is a bas-relief of Semini, above the archway, around 2nd century. Semini is the Scandinavian God of youth and fertility (with symbolic phallus). A historical plaque near Het Steen explains that women of the town appealed to Semini when they desired children; the god was reviled by later religious clergy. Inhabitants of Antwerp previously referred to themselves as 'children of Semini'.
At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.