The Castle of Sirmione: info, prices and timetables of the Scaligero
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The manor that rises from the Garda water: it is the fascinating Sirmione Castle, the Scaligera fortress known all over the world for its beauty.

Home Sirmione The Castle of Sirmione: info, prices and timetables of the Scaligero

It seems to emerge from the waters of the Garda, with a fabulous appearance as only a medieval fortress can do … it is the Scaligero Castle of Sirmione, known throughout the world for its beauty, but not quite as it should.

The Rocca Scaligera on Garda Lake: some pills

It is, in fact, a true jewel of the fourteenth-century fortifications, born as a fortress of the Scaligera era, or under the dominion of the lords of Verona, the famous Della Scala of which Dante also wrote in his Divine Comedy.

Its uniqueness lies not only in the fact that it represents one of the best preserved Italian castles, but that as a lakeside bulwark on the Garda, it has remained in its original function: it is the only access point to the village of Sirmione, today as then!

To enter Sirmione it is mandatory to pass through the castle and to enter the castle it is mandatory to pass through the drawbridge: the rest of the fortress is bordered by water on all sides. The fortress overlooks the lake and its dock contains a part of it, therefore, making it look like it emerged from the Garda in a fabulous way.

The dock was the place where the Della Scala fleet took refuge, and was built shortly after the construction of the Sirmione Castle, defended by the walls and some towers dominated by a structure called “spearhead” – on one side, the walls give way to an external moat that flows directly onto Lake Garda.

Ad un livello ancora più alto spiccano le tre torri maggiori, che presentano dei merli a coda di rondine, e proteggono il mastio centrale dello Scaligero, la torre di 47 metri che domina il paesaggio  gardesano in molti punti. 

Under the keep were the prisons, and above it was a real fortification of the territory. The central fortress was once accessed both from the outside and from the inside of Sirmione, while today only from the village can you enter through doors, then a portico and a staircase with a drawbridge.

You have to go up a flight of 146 steps, and at the end you reach the main bulwark, which branches off into the walkways of the walls, from which a view definitely worthy of wonder for those who visit them.

The history of the Sirmione Castle

As we see it today, the fort seems to be from a single era, but we know from medieval archeology studies that it was built at different times.

Bricks and stones come from areas surrounding the village, and were important for the first construction already in the mid-thirteenth century, to expand a previous structure that was probably a Roman fortification. Already in the Bronze Age this area was inhabited (2nd millennium BC), and between the 4th and 1st centuries AD, it was colonized by the Cenomanian Gauls. A coveted area by the lake, which in Roman times saw the rise of a “mansio” or a resting place for horses and riders, a so-called post office built along an imperial road.

The Rocca di Sirmione was born, therefore, on another ancient factory at the behest of the mayor of Verona, at the time Leonardino Della Scala – history knows it with the name of Mastino I.

As a strategic barrier, the initial castle was rather a control point of the port and defense from possible attacks, as Sirmione is a border area of the Verona area, exposed to piracy and external aggression from various fronts.

Cosa vedere a Sirmione

In the fourteenth century, some modernization works were carried out on the manor, adding an independent fortification that connected to the old one via a barbican, and two external courtyards to probably house more people and weapons, for defensive purposes. Also in this century it is thought that the dock was built with wooden elements, an exceptional port fortification, emblem of the naval power of the Scaligeri. It is their style that dominates in the creation of the castle, a Scaliger architecture that often creates towers in the fortresses open inwards on one side, so-called shielded towers (they facilitated the movement of ammunition in the various spaces and floors during the defense).

In 1405 documents testify how the Sirmione Castle was ceded to the new power, and from the Della Scala family it became a bulwark of the Republic of Venice.

The defensive structures of the Republic were large, the dock was enlarged and built with masonry, and the castle of Sirmione became a fundamental security point of the territory, until the fortress of Peschiera del Garda was strengthened in the sixteenth century.

Even today it is one of the best preserved Scaliger fortresses, also because it was maintained in its function even later: in the Napoleonic era the manor was used as a deposit of weapons and accommodation for the troops, as well as under the Austrian Empire. In more recent times it became the seat of municipal offices and then the home of the Carabinieri, until it was also a small place of detention.

Over the centuries the interior of the dock was also buried by debris, and in the nineteenth century it was walkable – it was cleared during the restoration work in 1919, and since then it has returned to welcome the Garda water inside.

Also restored in recent years by the Lombardy Regional Museum Complex, after opening in 2018 the Sirmione Castle appears today similar to its beginnings, as a typical fortress of the Garda and Veneto area, but also unique in its splendor!

The legends of the Rocca Scaligera

The fairytale atmosphere makes the castle one of the most visited places, also for the legends that circulate around its walls.

The most famous is that of Ebengardo and Arice, not exactly happy as a love story but certainly suggestive.

It is told in the fanciful story that Ebengardo was an owner of the fortress together with his Arice, with whom he was very much in love. At one point, the idyll is shattered by the arrival of Elalberto, a knight who arrived in the classic “dark and stormy night” to ask for shelter. Fascinated by the beauty of Arice he tried to get close to her during the night, but to her screams of fear the knight replied by stabbing her.

Ebengardo rushed into the room and found his ama dead, going mad with grief and killing Elalberto with his own dagger. The rather sad story seems to relive every stormy night, when the soul of Ebengardo is seen wandering around the Castle weeping for his Arice.

Evocative fables, perhaps with a fund of truth about some bloody event, which has no written history but only of oral tradition: all to be verified by visiting the Rocca Scaligera!

Prices and Information

Not only walls and landscapes, but also exhibition spaces are housed inside the manor. In the large external portico there is a lapidary with marble and remains of Roman and medieval times, also coming from churches and buildings in the surroundings; the finds are linked to information panels on the Rocca and its history.

For information on visiting the castle, please note that there is no need for reservations except for school groups.

The entrance ticket to the fortress is 6 euros (reduced 3 from 18 to 25 years for EU citizens). Admission is free for visiting students and teaching staff, and for EU children and young people under 18.

In summer the Sirmione Castle is open from Tuesday to Saturday 8.30-19.30, Sunday 9:15 – 17:45. The summer timetable comes into effect from April 1st to September 30th. In winter the opening hours of the castle are from Tuesday to Saturday 8.30-19.30, Sunday 9:15 – 13:30.

For more info contact the staff of the Rocca Scaligera located in piazza Castello, 34 – 25019 Sirmione (BS) – tel. 030 916468 – e-mail: pm-lom.roccascaligera@beniculturali.it


Michele
Ciao lettore 🙂 Sono Michele, ho 30 anni e vivo sul Lago di Garda, più precisamente a Toscolano Maderno. La passione e la bellezza di questo territorio mi hanno spinto a condividere con voi i miei migliori consigli e tutto ciò che riguarda il Lago di Garda. Se avete bisogno di informazioni ulteriori commentate l'articolo e vi risponderò in 24 ore! Buon viaggio a tutti!

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