Lake Garda is a beautiful holiday destination, which is visited by millions of tourists every year. They are attracted by the food, culture, activities on the lake and the beautiful towns and villages. But Lake Garda is also steeped in history. The imposing Castello Scaligero in Malcesine is just one of the many castles to discover.
History and architecture of the Castello Scaligero
The fortress Scaligero in Malcesine was built in the 5/6th century by the Lombards. But in 590 it was destroyed by the Franks and later rebuilt. Alberto Della Scala, the lord of Verona, lived in the castle between 1277 and 1387, from whom it takes its name.
The Republic of Venice added Malcesine with the castle to its dominion in the 16th Century. Two centuries later, it was taken over by the French and then the Austrians. In the 19th century, the town and castle became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
There is only one entry into the castle, which is via the Siresina. The fortress was built on three levels or courtyards, all of which can be accessed via drawbridges or stairs. The first courtyard holds the “Casermetta”, which used to be the lodgings of the guard of the castle. Over a set of stairs you can reach the “Rivellino”.
More than one Castello Scaligero in Lake Garda
It might surprise you to know that there is more than one Castello Scaligero around Lake Garda. Besides the one in Malcesine there is also the Castello Scaligero di Sirmione. It is situated on a thin peninsula at the southern edge of the lake. This fortress was built by the Della Scala family in the 13th century, who ruled Verona. That’s why it has the same name as the castle in Malcesine. Because of its secure situation, the Castle Scaligero in Sirmione was the place where the Scaligera fleet was stationed. It passed into the possession of the Republic of Venice in the 15th century.
The Castello Scaligero di Lazise is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Garda in the little town of Lazise. It’s part of the Veronese side of the lake. It was also built by the Della Scala family in the 13/14th century. Like the other Castelli Scaligeri, it became part of the Venetian empire for a long time. During this time, Lazise became one of the most important towns in the area. It was restored in the 19th century by Count Giovanni Battista Buri and is well worth a visit.
Fun facts about the castle
The Castle Scaligero in Malcesine is an imposing fortress on a rock, which is a sight to behold in itself. But there are some notable features that will make your visit even more interesting. One of the rooms, which was built by the Austrians as a gunpowder magazine, is now the Goethe room. There you can see the drawings the German writer made of the castle. If you walk down the stairs on the eastern wall of the Rivellino you will find some interesting traces of a fresco. They were probably part of a former chapel. Another fresco is situated in front of the tower on the same level as the well. It represents the Virgin Mary with her child, which indicates that it’s the site of another old chapel.
Visiting the Castello Scaligero
The castle is open every day between April and November, but you better check the official website to make sure it’s open when you are there. Admission for adults is €6. Over 65s and children up to 18 years pay a reduced admission fee. Children under 6 get free entry.
Don't miss this beautiful castle
Any trip to Lake Garda should include a visit to the Castello Scaligero in Malcesine. Discover the history of the area through the architecture of the fortress. Enjoy fabulous views over the lake, Mount Baldo and the charming town of Malcesine. Learn about Lake Garda and Mount Baldo in the Natural History Museum the castle hosts.
The town itself also has a lot to offer, with restaurants and cafés to sample the delicious local food. Walk along the cobbled streets and soak in the atmosphere. Or if you are after a bit more action, take the cable car up to Mount Baldo.