Medieval Castles on lake Garda

Where are the medieval castles?

It may seem strange to you, but one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is this one! So, if you are a fan of medieval history and constructions, on the lake you will meet your match! Let’s start with our list of medieval castles on lake Garda.

What to do and see on Lake Garda

1. Arco Castle

To the north of the lake on the upper Garda plain stands the Arco Castle. Perched on a rugged rock spur, it is the best place to admire one of the most beautiful views in Trentino. This castle has become a symbol and icon of the city and has been depicted by many artists. What remains of the manor are the towers and part of the walls. Inside it is possible to visit the “prigione del sasso” and the ravelin. Moreover, a cycle of profane frescoes from the fourteenth century is still intact in one of the rooms.

Castello di Desenzano del Garda
Credits: Stefano Marelli

2. Desenzano Castle

The Desenzano Castle is one of the castles from which you can enjoy one of the most beautiful views of Lake Garda. The castle is of medieval origin, built on the ruins of a Roman fortress. Due to its strategic and highly sought-after position it has been repeatedly attacked over the centuries. Following numerous works, it has reopened to the public and hosts events and concerts. In particular, with the restoration of the walls, today it is possible to visit the patrol walkway and the ascent to the entrance keep.

Lazise Castle
Credits: Elia Marassi

3. Lazise Castle

Another castle built by the Della Scala family on the ruins of Roman and medieval fortresses is the Lazise Castle. It has a square plan structure with an important keep and five towers. The castle is located in the center of the town but cannot be visited inside as it is a private property. The crenellated walls that enclose the entire historic center of the city are also very characteristic and well preserved.

Fortress of Lonato

4. Fortress of Lonato

At the top of Lonato, a small town on the Brescia side, stands the Rocca di Lonato. Built for military and defensive purposes, it can be reached by passing over the suggestive drawbridge. The fortress is made up of two main bodies: the Rocchetta and the Main District. Today the Rocca can be visited, and various events take place inside, such as Fiori nella Rocca, Lonato in Festival and Fiabe nella Rocca. If you are looking for a beautiful set for your wedding reception, it is possible to organize it here; it will certainly be unforgettable.

Castello di Malcesine
Credits: Leonhard Niederwimmer

5. Malcesine Castle

The Scaligero Castle of Malcesine stands in one of the most panoramic points and offers a suggestive view of the lake. It can be reached easily with a walk that starts from the center of the village and is open to the public for visits. Inside, in addition to the walk along the walls and the lookout terraces, you will also find the Goethe Room. In fact, the famous writer stayed in Malcesine during his trip to Italy. It is said that, struck by the beauty of the castle, he decided to draw some sketches (now preserved in the small museum Sala Goethe). The locals, however, mistook him for a German spy and for the misunderstanding he was almost imprisoned. Very interesting is also the visit to the Natural History Museum of the castle which tells about the flora and fauna of the lake.

Moniga Castle

6. Moniga Castle

The Castle of Moniga was built in the 10th century, during the invasions of the Hungarians, as a refuge for the inhabitants in cases of danger. It stands on a slight rise on the road that connects the other defensive castles in the area. Having never been a stately home and not being in a particularly strategic position, the castle has never suffered significant attacks or conquests. For this reason, it is very well preserved.

Castello di Monzambano
Credits: Massimo Telò

7. Monzambano Castle

In the Mincio park stands also the Castle of Monzambano, one of the most intact examples of Mantuan castle architecture. The city of Monzambano was for many years a strategic point of great importance and for this reason the castle was subject to several renovations. The crenellated perimeter wall that surrounds the two hills on which the castle stands is perfectly preserved.

Castello di Padenghe

8. Padenghe Castle

In an elevated position with respect to the city stands the Padenghe Castle, an ancient medieval defensive stronghold. You can access to the castle via the original drawbridge and passing it you will find yourself among the remains of a small medieval village. You can reach the stronghold with a short walk starting from the city center.

Rocca of Peschiera del Garda

9. Rocca of Peschiera del Garda

Many do not know but also in Peschiera there is a castle from the Della Scala era. The Rocca of Peschiera del Garda, also known as Rocchetta, is located inside the Canterane bastion, part of the Peschiera fortress. The interesting thing is that it was built keeping the Roman marble tower inside. This tower was positioned there as a crossing point for the Gallic Way. For the curious, we suggest visiting the Fishing Museum to see a miniature reproduction of the castle.

Participate with our Peschiera Walking Tour to discover more about Peschiera del Garda!

Castello di Polpenazze

10. Polpenazze Castle

Not far away there is also the castle of Polpenazze, also built as a defense against the Hungarian invasions. Then rebuilt by the Venetians in the 16th century it was partially demolished to build the parish church. Today only parts of the walls and the ancient entrance remain of the castle.

Ponti sul Mincio Castle
Credits: M. Piavoli

11. Ponti sul Mincio Castle

Among the defensive buildings of the Scaligeri there is also the castle of Ponti sul Mincio. Characteristic for its polygonal shape enclosed between five towers. Built between 1260 and 1276, when it lost its main defensive function it became a reservoir for the aqueduct. After years of neglect and abandonment following the restoration works, today the castle of Ponti sul Mincio has returned to its former glory. Purchase the Ponti Card to visit this beautiful Scaliger Castle!

Puegnago Castle

12. Puegnago Castle

The Puegnago Castle is also part of the same defensive line against the Hungarians. Currently only the ruins of the castle remain, on which a bell tower built in the nineteenth century.

Castello di Sirmione
Credits: Niels Keekstra

13. Sirmione Castle

The Castle of Sirmione, on the other hand, is unique of its kind, a rare example of a perfectly preserved lake fortification. Both the castle and the dock can be visited. In addition, we recommend taking a boat tour of the peninsula to be able to admire it in all its grandeur from the water, the best perspective.

Castello di Torri del Benaco

14. Torri del Benaco Castle

The Castle of Torri was built in the last period of the Scaliger domination. It is built on the remains of a medieval castle, in fact the city being halfway on the Peschiera-Riva route has always been a strategic point. Inside, you can visit the museum that tells the story of the castle and the main traditions of this lake area. Of particular note is the citrus greenhouse, the only one open to the public.

Castello di Valeggio sul Mincio
Credits: Franco Lanfredi

15. Valeggio sul Mincio Castle

Not far away stands the suggestive Castle of Valeggio sul Mincio. Symbol of the city and reachable through a pleasant walk among elegant Art Nouveau villas. The castle is of medieval origin and still has the grandeur of that era unaltered. Although most of the ancient walls were destroyed by an earthquake in 1117, the Torre Tonda and part of the subsequent extensions of the Scala family remain intact.

Did you expect there would have been this many medieval castle on lake Garda? If you are curious about other special places to visit I invite you check the rest of our website.


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