15 castles of Italy: majestic and beautiful
Sunny Italy is full of charming towns, elegant palaces, magnificent temples and archaeological antiquities.
But it cannot be imagined without the majestic castello – castles, land guards, that for centuries were not only the former dwelling of the nobility with their servants and the hiding place of neighboring farmers from enemies, but also an indicator of status and power of the local lord. So, what are they like – the most beautiful castles in Italy.
Castello Sforzesco, Milan
Sforza Castle was built in the 14th century, but it was preserved thanks to the founder of the Milan branch of the Sforza dynasty – Francesco. The mercenary and warlord, who became Duke of Milan in 1450, ordered to rebuild the castle, which was destroyed during the short existence of the Ambrosian Republic. It was the castle of Milan, that for many years was the family nest of Sforza family, later inspired Italian masters who worked on the Moscow Kremlin. Now, the Sforzesco houses several museums and a collection of musical instruments.
Photo source: milanocard.it.
Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome
Castel Sant'Angelo was built in the 2nd century AD by order of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, as a mausoleum. Once it was famous as the highest building of the Eternal City. Over time, the former tomb was built up with walls and towers, becoming a formidable fortress.
According to the legend, in 590 during the plague, Pope Gregory the Great saw the archangel Michael, who sheathed his sword on the walls of "the sad castle", and the disease had ended. Today it is the Military History Museum.
Rome offers a huge number of hotels to suit all tastes.
Photo source: nice-places.com.
Valentino Castle, Turin
It was built in the 13th century in the shape of a horseshoe, and was named in honor of Saint Valentine's church. In the middle of the 17th it was rebuilt and got its present appearance, that looks more like a palace than a medieval fortification. Castello del Valentino is interesting because of its two radically different facades. Today, it houses the Architecture Faculty of the Politecnico di Torino, around which a flower-filled botanical garden was created. So, it turns out, that Italian castles are not only a tourist spots, but also the guardians of science.
Photo source: weaponhistory.com.
Castel Nuovo, Naples
The «Anjou husband» was built in the 13th century at the behest of Charles of Anjou, as the residence of the King of Naples. Carl did not have time to enjoy a brand new fortification (because of the revolt of the Sicilians), but his descendants ruled from these high walls for a long time. Later, it has been repeatedly stormed by the enemy, and even by earthquake, so it was rebuilt several times. Now the formidable walls of Castel Nuovo are one of the gems of Naples and one of the most magnificent castles in Italy.
Photo source: nice-places.com.
Castel dell’Ovo, Naples
The famous Castle of the Egg is located on a small island, where, according to legend, Greek colonists landed and founded the city. Also, according to the legend, here poet Virgil buried a magical egg. While it is not destroyed the whole district, and Naples can sleep peacefully. It is also interesting because of its unusual form, and that there is no entrance fee to the castle for tourists (which is a rarity for moneyloving residents of Italy).
Naples is famous for a variety of hotels that suit any taste.
Photo source: allmytime.ru.
Castelvecchio Castle, Verona
San Martino al Ponte (the first name of the castle, given after the name of the nearby church of St. Martin) was built in the 9th century. It also, could have served as an inspiration for artists who built the Moscow Kremlin. Now it is the Municipal Museum, where paintings by Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo, sculptures, ancient weapons and ceramics are stored.
Photo source: © LianeM-Fotolia.com.
Castel del Monte, near the town of Andria, Apulia
Castel del Monte was built in the 13th century by Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen. It is one of the most unusual fortifications around the world. There were no moat, no drawbridge, no stables or warehouses. There is only a regular octagon with towers of the same shape. Eight rooms on each of two floors. The octagonal fountain in the courtyard. Certainly the unhealthy love for this symbolic number and a figure, isn’t it? In addition, almost all of the rooms are connected with each other, creating a sense of the infinite ways.
As the "Crown of Apulia" was located absolutely strategically illogical, there is a version that Friedrich created not a fortification but the material embodiment of the esoteric teachings. Or a really bombastic and insanely rich hunting lodge (the emperor was crazy about the falconry).
This Castel inspired Umberto Eco to create a mysterious edifice premises in the magical "Name of the Rose."
Photo source: agentika.com.
Aragonese Castle, Ischia, Campania
In a couple of hundreds meters from the island of Ischia, the Castello Aragonese rises on a small volcanic island. It seems only a moment have passed since the walls emerged from the sea foam, setting on the gray stone and ascended to the hot Italian sun.
In fact, its history starts in the 5th century BC. In the 15th century Aragonese Castle was reborn, when the rulers of Aragon had strengthened the castle, connecting it to the island with stone bridge. On the territory of Castello there is also the monastery cemetery and Torture Museum – one of the richest exhibits in Italy.
Photo source: ischiatipps.com.
Fenis Castle, not far from Aosta, Valle d'Aosta
Fenis Castle was built in the 13th century, and since then it has never been attacked by the enemy, so it has a more representative than defensive function. In the 18th century it had been abandoned and a century later it was bought and restored by the state. Now among other things it houses Furniture Museum.
Photo source: windoworld.ru.
Malaspina Castle, Fosdinovo, Tuscany
The fortification of the 11th century is still owned by the Malaspina family, that captured the castle back in 1317. This building is famous for many ghosts, as well as the fact that, according to the legend, once Dante Alighieri stopped by. Another legend tells of the very frivolous behavior of one of the owners of the castle with her beloved seniors.
Photo source: castle-ua.com.
Scaliger Castle, Sirmione, Lombardy
It was built in the 13th century on the banks of Lake Garda on the initiative of Scaliger family, in order to protect themselves from grasping hands of the Duke of Milan. The castle is interesting because of the harbor, that is completely surrounded by walls. It is located in the historic center of Sirmione and is considered to be one of the most beautiful Italian castles.
Photo: Alex Cheban.
Estense Castle, Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna
Castle of St. Michael was the residence of the rulers of Este house, built in the 14th century after a folk rebellion. Niccolo d'Este rightly decided that it is better to communicate with angry citizens not from the porch of the palace, that is open to all the winds, but from the walls of a fortified castle. Besides architectural beauty, here you can admire the elegant decoration of rooms, ancient frescos and a prison dungeon, where at one time many noble captives suffered.
Photo source: ogs.trieste.it.
Castello Aragonese, Taranto, Puglia
This fortification has many names. Castel Sant'Angelo and Taranto Castle, and finally, the Aragonese Castle, because of the the first dynasties of owners of the castle. It was built in the 10th century, and since then has been rebuilt several times. Now it is the headquarters of the Naval forces of Italy. Despite this, the access to the building for the tourists is free. Somehow brave sailors do not worry about the insidious spies.
Photo: Livioandronico2013, wikimedia.org.
Castello di Agazzano, Emilia-Romagna
It is the elegant hybrid of the gloomy medieval castle and Renaissance palace. While walking around castello you feel as if you have used the Time Machine. At first, in the 13th century, the fortification was built, with exclusively pragmatic, defensive aim. In the 15th century the most beautiful decorative elements were created. In the 18th century it was gradually transformed into a summer residence, where owners could relax. In the 19th century the luxurious garden, decorated with marvelous sculptures was created.
There are not many accommodation options in Agazzano, but this place is definitely worth a visit. You should book it right now!
Photo source: vinipiacentini.net.
Castello Svevo, Bari, Puglia
The fortification of the 12th century, lived through many transformations and even through almost complete destruction. In the 16th century the Svevo Castle was used as prison and barracks. Today its halls are used for numerous exhibitions of various works of art, showcasing a collection of plaster casts and the results of local archaeologists.
Photo source: ita2u.com.
The icy wind from the depths of the centuries. The stones that remember the Dark Ages, the Renaissance and graciously look at the bustling modernity. Marvelous architecture, elegant interior, great paintings and frescoes, that live in cool rooms, magnificent views of the surrounding area and stunning snapshots.
All this and much more are the castles of Italy. The country, whose second name could have been the word "history."