In the panorama of this Veronese shore on Lake Garda, a medieval castle stands out from the top of the village. This structure has dominated the lake and the houses of Malcesine for centuries, with its battlements and watchtower. The construction date of the castle has been the subject of discussion for some time, as there may have been a fortification on this shore since the 5th century. If you are in the area (or want to be), it is definitely worth learning more and discovering this corner of Garda where time seems to have stopped!
History: the fortress of the Scaligeri family, from Verona to Malcesine
Although a military structure was present for centuries, probably in the Lombard era, it was in the 13th century that the castle was expanded as we know it today. Destroyed by the Franks in 590 AD, it was rebuilt and later hosted King Pepin of Italy, the son of Charlemagne, who was in Malcesine to visit the saints Benigno and Caro in their hermitage of San Zeno in Cassone (8th-9th century).
The fortress then passed to the fiefdom of the bishops of Verona, and later to the Della Scala family, who ruled Verona. These local lords began a fortification of the villages on Lake Garda between the 13th and 14th centuries to create an important defensive system for the region.
The Malcesine Castle was part of this system and benefited from renovations and strengthened structures. It was then found well defined by subsequent lords, the Visconti, who occupied it from 1387 to 1403, before leaving it to the Republic of Venice, then to the German Empire, the French, the Austrians, and finally to Italy. Until, in 1902, the Malcesine Castle was declared a national monument.
The interiors and the Natural History Museum
The Malcesine Castle is one of the most unique Scaliger Castles, with an excellent panoramic view of Lake Garda and the village, with a high square tower and a platform on its summit, perfect for admiring the lake’s scenery.
When you enter the castle, you will find the small barracks where the fortress guard lived on the left, and today this building houses an interactive Natural History Museumon two floors. In addition, the castle also houses Renaissance furniture, hunting trophies, and antique weapons.
From an external staircase, you can also reach a first floor where weddings are celebrated or events and art exhibitions are held. By following various paths, you can reach the so-called Goethe Room, where his drawings of the lake and castle are displayed, made by the writer during his Journey to Italy.
From here, you can climb up to the second courtyard, a platform known as the Rivellino, with a panoramic view of the lake and Mount Baldo at 360 degrees. Civil wedding ceremonies take place on the Rivellino. Once you descend the stairs, you will find a wall with traces of a fresco, probably derived from the ancient chapel of the Scaligeri. Another fresco can be admired after the Scaliger Gate, where a well is located: the Virgin with the Child, perhaps derived from another ancient chapel.
The panoramic tower
When you climb the tower (ps: during my last visit, it was closed due to Covid-19), the breathtaking and unforgettable view might captivate you, but you could be suddenly awakened by the clock bell on the tower: it rings every hour!
Inside the tower, you will find different rooms, and from there, you can access the highest area. In one of these, there is a removed graffiti bearing the name Corrado II and the date 1131 – perhaps this part of the tower was completed then. In another room, there is a city bell from 1442 and a series of cones for the coins of the city of Malcesine. There is also an underground connection between the external areas and the tower, a passage discovered after opening the hatch on the floor of the first room of the tower.
Opening hours and ticket prices
The castle is open every day from 9.30 am to 7.00 pm and also organizes guided tours that can be booked. At the entrance, due to Covid-19 regulations, there is a thermometer that measures the body temperature of guests.
The ticket prices vary depending on age, but generally, adults pay €6 and children pay €3.
Malcesine Scaliger Castle Via Castello, 39 – Malcesine (Verona) Phone: +39 045 6570333