The Visconti Castle in Cusago was built in the 14th century by Bernabò Visconti and used as a hunting lodge by the Visconti family, lords and dukes of Milan. The castle underwent significant changes in the Renaissance period. Today it is in a state of abandonment.
The castle of Cusago had been attended since 1369 by the court of Bernabò Visconti and after his removal from power in 1385 by his nephew Gian Galeazzo. Between 1425 and 1440 the Duke Filippo Maria Visconti devoted great attention to the castle and to the surrounding park. His mistress Agnese del Maino lived occasionally there. In 1438 a little canal (the naviglietto) was excavated to connect the castle to the nearby Naviglio Grande.
During the Ambrosian Republic (1447-1450) part of the buildings were demolished. The function of the castle as a country villa for hunting and parties was restored by Ludovico il Moro. In 1496 he hosted the emperor Maximilian I.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.