Military Review

History in stone. Scaliger Castle on Lake Garda


This is what it is, the Scaliger castle in the city of Sirmione on Lake Garda

Italy is mine, fate is insidious
The worldly judgment is not terrible.
You're dying.
Words are bad healer.
But I hope they don't wait for silence
On the Tiber and on the Arno
And here, on Po, where is my abode today.
I beg you Savior
On the ground, a sympathetic gaze
And have mercy on the sacred country,
Engulfed in carnage
Without any basis for the massacre.
Francesco Petrarca. Sonnet 128

Castles and fortresses. The interest of VO readers shown by them to the material about Castle of St. Angela in Rome, once again suggests that locks are an interesting topic. But it's best to write about castles when you've visited them yourself. Moreover, then there is no need to get photographs from the Internet, write letters in different languages ​​to different organizations in different countries, which is troublesome and does not always give a result. “What other castles are there in Italy? Write about them! " - such a letter was sent to me by one reader. And this is where the problem arose. The fact is that there are a lot of castles in Italy, almost more than in the "country of castles" - England. But visiting them is not easy, even the most famous ones. Therefore, for now, let's restrict ourselves to just one, namely the Scaliger castle in Sirmione, a small fortress on Lake Garda. I myself have not been there, but my daughter visited there, presented me with all his "ins and outs" and photographs taken by her. Not as much as I would like, but all my own. So today we are again going to Italy, to the small but very picturesque and extremely cozy town of Sirmione, located on a long and very narrow peninsula, surrounded on all sides by the clear azure waters of Lake Garda, which in itself is considered a natural attraction of Italy. One cannot count on the wealth of museum collections here, but it is simply beautiful here. And everything is beautiful!

It is interesting that the ancient Romans noticed the extraordinary beauty of these places. And they didn't just notice: the ancient Roman poet Catullus sang it in verse. Accordingly, today the beauty of the lake and its surroundings attracts a lot of tourists here, who, once in Sirmione, in whole crowds along the flowering alleys of the town head straight to its main attraction - the ancient castle of Scaliger. And it was this castle that became the main interesting place of this town, which everyone looks at and admires.

The places there are very beautiful. Around the emerald green lake emerald blue mountains

And all because, although it is small in size and stands out of the blue, it looks majestic and inaccessible, since it is surrounded by water on all sides.

This place was famous for its mild climate and convenient peninsular location, providing the inhabitants of the peninsula with natural protection and food. Therefore, Sirmione was settled in the most ancient times. First, a small fishing village, then in ancient times it turned into a town of very decent size. It was called then Sermio Mancio, and not only fishermen lived here, but also the Veronese nobility lived here, who built their villas in this cozy place. Well, the first fortifications on the site where today's castle stands appeared in the days of the Roman Republic. And there was also a harbor for the ships on which these same Veronese sailed here.

You can arrive in Sirmione by land, or you can take such a boat ... The latter is much more pleasant

In the III-IV centuries A.D. the city walls were built on, but this city did not save only from the barbarians. The ancient Germanic tribe of the Lombards settled here, and it was from him that the name of this region later came - Lombardy. At the end of the 1260th century, a monastery of the Benedictine order was built in Sirmione, which was patronized by the wife of the last Lombard king, Queen Ansia. In the XNUMXs, the town of Sirmione came under the arm of the influential Verona clan della Scala (Scaligers), who made a huge contribution to the cultural development of Verona, and many other cities to the north of it. Naturally, to protect their possessions, as well as the approaches to Verona, the Scaligers immediately began to build castles here and built several of them.

Top view of the city and the castle. The walled square of water is the harbor of the castle, where the Scaliger ships once stood. By the way, the residents of the town have enough water and greenery!

This is, first of all, the Castelvecchio castle in Verona itself, the castle in Malcesine and a number of others, but only the castle in Sirmione is considered to be the most - even this epithet is used - beautiful! And this happened because this castle (it just so happened!) Did not have a chance to survive serious sieges, as a result of which all its battlements, and the same crenellated square towers retained their original appearance without any changes. Unless it is now guarded not by guards in helmets and with halberds in their hands, but by wild ducks and snow-white swans floating around him.

The castle looks impressive from a distance

It is worth emphasizing that the Scaligers were supporters of the Ghibellines, and in 1276 Mastino I della Scala arranged in Sirmione a bloody massacre of all who supported the Guelphs - a kind of Bartholomew's Night, massacring entire families of his political opponents. Well, he himself, who lived in a castle surrounded by water on all sides, was practically not in danger. It was possible to get into it only through a drawbridge, the thickness of the walls was such that, before the appearance of artillery, they could withstand any attacks.

Dovetail teeth. This means that the building belongs to the Ghibellines. Donjon is 47 meters high!

Moreover, the Scaliger castle itself on the shores of Lake Garda was built in such a way that it was located in the narrowest part of the peninsula as much as four kilometers long! He blocked the enemy's access to him from the mainland, served as the harbor of Verona flotilla, and behind the castle were the houses of the inhabitants of the city, who, if something happened, could strengthen its garrison.

Drawbridge leading to the gate

But now we entered the castle through ... the side, not the main gate. And what do we see inside? A little bit ... On the ground floor, various stone statues and architectural fragments of buildings of the past are exhibited: capitals, columns, carved stones that adorned buildings, and, in general, that's all. But then you can climb to the top of the keep, where 146 steps lead, and from there look around. And to think: how beautiful everything is around and ... damn it, where did it take me! The view from the tower to the city (it looks like a toy) and the lake (it seems to be fabulous) is just wonderful. Well, then from the keep you can go to the walls and go around the entire castle around the perimeter, imagining how they once lived here.

As you can see, there are two entrances to the castle from the bridge: a gate for a permanent entry-exit and a gate that was opened only for horsemen. Accordingly, two lifting bridges, lifted with the help of logs-balancers extending into the grooves of the wall

As already mentioned, it was almost impossible to take this castle by storm, so no one tried to do it. But since one cannot get into the castle, then it is also impossible to get out of it. Over time, prison cells were set up in its high towers, from which there was nothing to escape, it was impossible.

Above the gate is the Venetian winged lion of St. Mark - a symbol of Venetian rule

In 1405, Verona and all the cities that belonged to it passed into the hands of the Venetian Republic, so the Venetian garrison was placed in the Scaliger castle. Now this castle began to play an even more important role, since it was easy to control the entire water area of ​​Lake Garda from it. Therefore, the Venetian doges kept the castle buildings intact. It was under the Venetians that a new stone wall was built around its harbor, where their guard galleys now stood.

The photograph with a person is for scale. It is clearly seen that the height of the gate was such that it made it easy for a rider with a spear to pass through, however, the spear had to be tilted most likely ...

But time is unmerciful, and already in the 1814th century, the decline of the glory of the Scaliger castle begins. Moreover, the architect Michele Sanmicheli has built in the city of Peschiera del Garda a completely new fort with bastions for cannons. The garrison of the Venetian Doge was transferred there, and the Scaliger castle began to be used as warehouses and an arsenal. When, during the Napoleonic wars, the territories belonging to Venice were captured by the French, their garrison stood in the Scaliger castle until 1861. In XNUMX, after the Italian states were finally united, Sirmione became part of the Kingdom of Italy. But the new government did not show much interest in him, since there were just a lot of castles like the one that stood there throughout the country. However, at the end of the XNUMXth century, hot springs with healing mineral water were discovered in Sirmione, and ... the city immediately turned into a major balneological resort.

But these gates through the territory of the castle are used to this day.

Once again, as in the days of the proud Roman Empire, wealthy Italians who liked this picturesque town very much came here again, and they began to build their villas here. There were tourists who needed sights to be photographed against their background. All this led to the revival of the ancient Scaliger castle, which already at the beginning of the XNUMXth century became the property of the state, which allocated money for its restoration.

Walls and half-towers surrounding the castle harbor. At that time, not every castle, even standing on the water, could boast of having its own protected harbor!

This is how his new life began as a tourist attraction and a museum of castle architecture. Since in the castle there were only military garrisons and warehouses for several centuries, it would be naive to expect that some medieval paintings or interiors will be preserved here. No, in the Scaliger castle, tourists do not appear at all for this, but in order to touch its ancient battlements, walk along the castle courtyard, or, climbing a high tower, gaze from it the transparent blue of Lake Garda, enclosed in a ring of green mountains, and enjoy the tranquility of contemplating this well, absolutely idyllic landscape.

Scaliger coat of arms

Well, if you want antiquity, then here on the very edge of the peninsula you can see it too: these are the ruins of an ancient Roman villa of the XNUMXst century AD, and they are well preserved. True, it is quite far from the castle to go there, but in the shade of trees, and not in the sun, which is important for Italy. By the way, there is also a beach where you can swim.

Inside the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

The oldest church in Sirmione is the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, which is interesting because it has preserved frescoes of the XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries. And this despite the fact that it was rebuilt several times. So you can get pleasure here, so to speak, complex, and also have a tasty meal and taste delicious local wine. And again, not just eating, but at the same time looking at the castle and its battlements and towers!

But such fruits are sold right at the pier and juice is immediately squeezed out of them. It seems to be lemons, but they are too big!

Our boat leaves from Sirmione. This is how the Scaliger castle looks like from the side of the lake
Articles from this series:
Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome: refuge, treasury, prison
Nice: what impregnable fortresses turn into
The stone fortresses of ancient Iberians: a chronology of historical drama
Castles and ancient settlements of Lloret
Chinon: castle of one of the wonders of the Orleans virgin
Chinon Graffiti - The Key to the Templar Gold
Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must to register.

I have an account? Sign in

  1. tlauicol
    tlauicol 12 October 2020 06: 10 New
    beautiful. there, on Lake Garda, there is another Scaliger castle. Somewhere a guide told us that 90% of the world's cultural heritage is concentrated in Italy. I probably lied, but seeing little Italy is not enough and forty lives - that's for sure
    1. Bersaglieri
      Bersaglieri 12 October 2020 12: 30 New
      So this is Malcesine.
      1. tlauicol
        tlauicol 12 October 2020 12: 34 New
        Quote: Bersaglieri
        So this is Malcesine.

        1. Bersaglieri
          Bersaglieri 12 October 2020 12: 45 New
          There is also a wonderful cable car with an ascent of 2 km.
  2. vladcub
    vladcub 12 October 2020 06: 54 New
    Is it normal for both Ryzhov and Shpakovsky today? And tomorrow to suck an empty paw?
    1. Catfish
      Catfish 12 October 2020 10: 02 New
      Glory, hello! hi
      Take an example from the bear, and what else to do in winter? Just don't get carried away. laughing
  3. Olgovich
    Olgovich 12 October 2020 06: 54 New
    The oldest church in Sirmione is the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

    Early morning at the cathedral.
    Somewhere above in stained glass
    Santa Maria Maggiore
    In red-green tears ...
  4. The leader of the Redskins
    The leader of the Redskins 12 October 2020 07: 11 New
    Thank you for the excursion, Vyacheslav Olegovich! Good morning!
    1. Van 16
      Van 16 12 October 2020 07: 33 New
      I join, a very good excursion!
    2. kalibr
      12 October 2020 08: 17 New
      Thanks! And you should visit there too!
      1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
        Kote Pan Kokhanka 12 October 2020 13: 14 New
        Thank you Vyacheslav Olegovich, I read the article in fits and starts. Finished off only by the third hour. Liked!!!
        1. kalibr
          12 October 2020 14: 00 New
          It happens! All the work, yes chores. I also often write in fits and starts ...
  5. Undecim
    Undecim 12 October 2020 07: 59 New
    The fact is that there are a lot of castles in Italy, almost more than in the "country of castles" - England.
    In England and Ireland I found numbers from 1440 to 1600. In Italy - 3177, of which more than 2000 are residential. As I understand it, this figure includes not only castles in the classical sense, but also palaces.
  6. Undecim
    Undecim 12 October 2020 09: 35 New
    Top view of the city and the castle. The walled square of water is the harbor of the castle, where the Scaliger ships once stood

    The walls around the harbor were built by the Venetians. And the Scaliger ships stood at the wooden pier.
    1. Catfish
      Catfish 12 October 2020 09: 57 New
      The fortress walls around the harbor are EdOrovo! I've never seen this.
  7. xomaNN
    xomaNN 12 October 2020 11: 15 New

    Thank you for reminding us about our last year's Italian campaign. The castle in Sermione is really picturesque. I remember.
  8. Trilobite Master
    Trilobite Master 12 October 2020 12: 32 New
    An interesting country in general - Italy ...
    Now, if Gumilev is right and there is a certain "ray of passionarity" that makes people run somewhere and do something, then Italy, in my opinion, is tightly shielded from this ray. Moreover, there seems to be some kind of geopathogenic radiation - everyone who happens to be there since the time of the Roman Empire becomes lazy and complacent, showing a kind of sybaritic inclinations. smile
    In Italy, even if they are at war, it is somehow lazy, without enthusiasm, in the style of "I'm tired today, I won't go to war." Venice and Genoa somehow tried to overcome this laziness, to fight for real, thoughtfully and with the exertion of at least some forces, but these attempts do not seem very convincing to me.
    Here and there - there is a castle, for three quarters of a millennium - beautiful, in a resort place, if you want - storm from the water, if you want - break through the isthmus, place trebuchets or, there, cannons, smash, level everything under the level of the lake ... No, you won't get anything interesting from these Italians.
    The maximum that can be expected from them is that they, with shouts of "Spanking Madonna, Facia di Merdo", will cut out one, at most a couple of villages in the area, and then, if they are very angry, after which they will go to the opera with a sense of accomplished military duty church or local lupanarium.
    No, it's boring with them.
    There are no deadly Spanish passions (Italian, compared to them, some kind of caricature-harmless), there are no French perverted fantasies from which the blood runs through your veins faster, there is no German pedantry and determination, when some total massacre is arranged with a phlegmatic bored look, there is no British pragmatism with mass executions of both lords and peasants at ten thousand people a year ...
    In short, boring. All these Borgia, Medici, Sforza and other de la Scallas were somehow swarming there in between parties, hounded each other, cut themselves behind curtains and under carpets, but so that with a soul, in a big way - this is not ...
    But thanks to the author anyway. It’s a pity that tomorrow there’s nothing to read, but this is no longer a question for him. sad
    1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
      Kote Pan Kokhanka 12 October 2020 17: 56 New
      For that with soul and scope, all and sundry came to visit Italy! Etruscans, Greeks, Celts, Huns, Goths, Slavs and others. German emperors for five centuries walked in Italy, took the Swiss and Hungarians to visit. The French and the Spaniards fought in the Apennines, just like at home. Even ours had time to mark there. The last were the Allies in 1943! Repeating the feat of the Normans!
      1. Trilobite Master
        Trilobite Master 12 October 2020 18: 04 New
        And everyone who came there soon became fat and lazy, waiting for the next find. smile
        1. Kote Pan Kokhanka
          Kote Pan Kokhanka 12 October 2020 19: 23 New
          A similar situation was with foggy Albion. The shop was closed only with the arrival of William the Conqueror! After him, lords and others spoiled the lives of themselves and their neighbors mostly on their own, although not without the help of their neighbors.
          On the other hand, if you believe Gumilev, passionaries have more chances to give their souls to God, the devil or the devil. It is banal according to the theory of probability that the first one catches a stone from a sling or an arrow from a bow. When the volume of the restless enters the limits, the people settled down, relaxed and))) Regular passionaries came to visit them.
          A classic example is the Avrian Kaganate. They sat in Panionia, enjoying their formidable glory and plundered riches, and then the wild Ugrians came, who did not know that Avars should be feared. Now where are the Avars? If you think of the era of great crossings as a pool table, there is a lot of fun and incredible. Especially when the persecuted and weak, begins to bend the ecumene, not knowing the past and present merits, then another persecuted and weak comes (sometimes the culprit of the exile of the first) and the carousel begins again !!!
          Looking from the outside you begin to understand the locals that sometimes it is easier to feed your "toothy" ones than to wait for a blow every summer.
          However, our statehood began with this, they called for an outfit, and the society threw off. Although it was right, we do not live in the smallest and poorest country!
          I can’t resist and give an example of the random nature of the expansion for the differences of our country. More precisely, impudence, a swoop and "God will not give out, the devil will not eat"!
          Ermak went for zipuns. Russia has grown with Siberia. You can go on long and tediously. But the conclusion in half of the cases is always the same - they did not want to, it happened!
          1. Trilobite Master
            Trilobite Master 12 October 2020 20: 35 New
            And if you look in a global sense, then on the planet there are several centers of power, the balance between which is constantly shifting back and forth.
            Africa gave birth to man and he expanded to all continents. Then people divided into races and began to fight with each other. In antiquity, Europe went to the East, during the Dark Ages - the East went to Europe, then again the reverse roll - Europe, represented by Russia, reached the Pacific Ocean, represented by its western part - crossed the Atlantic, invaded Africa, now the swing swung to another side - Europe is shaking from all sides - from Asia and from Africa and from America. Asia is generally on the rise - it presses in all directions ...
            I think with horror what will happen when again, as in prehistoric times, Africa's turn comes to dominate - how many people it will expel from itself to the rest of the planet ... we will live - what will happen, you can imagine looking at the orgy that is happening overseas, I mean "black Leaves Meta" ...
            Oh ho ho ...
            My eldest son is married to a thoroughbred Kalmyk woman - there is some guarantee of the future for the grandchildren - there will be half Asians. smile
            I need to marry my second son, just in case, to a black woman, you never know ... And so I will bring up my mulatto granddaughter ... smile
            1. kalibr
              13 October 2020 07: 45 New
              Quote: Trilobite Master
              it's Africa's turn to dominate - how many people it will expel from itself to the rest of the planet ...

              It has already begun! When you visit Paris, you will see them at every step. Whites huddle up to the walls, and they walk in the middle of the street. In the pharmacies there are black women sellers ... Metro, oh, only black and brown faces ... Our three whites were one for the whole train!
              1. Icelord
                Icelord 14 October 2020 14: 55 New
                Similarly, Vyacheslav Olegovich, I was somehow surrounded in Paris, there was nowhere to run, there were blacks around ... I had to buy a keychain in the form of an Eiffel tower
                1. kalibr
                  14 October 2020 15: 10 New
                  Quote: Icelord
                  Similarly, Vyacheslav Olegovich, I was somehow surrounded in Paris, there was nowhere to run, there were blacks around ... I had to buy a keychain in the form of an Eiffel tower

                  Hee hee hee! One to one! But ... when surrounded by my wife, she was one Negro - "lagging behind". And he told her in pure Russian: "Racist, racist!" Then I approached, looked at him and he fell silent. They are afraid of people with mustaches! But we bought keychains from them - for ourselves and for friends. With a discount because a lot!
                  1. Icelord
                    Icelord 14 October 2020 15: 58 New
                    The funny thing is that on closer examination, the keychain turned out to be made in China. And you?
                    1. kalibr
                      14 October 2020 18: 41 New
                      Of course, too. They laughed for a long time ... By the way, I even have a souvenir cowboy boot from Texas, a gift from a former student who got married there. And he too ... "made in China"
            2. kalibr
              14 October 2020 15: 15 New
              Oh, Michael! One of my friends had a son. That son married a Korean woman as picturesque and flexible as a flower. And iron inside like a steel bar! Then the grandson was born ... the spitting image of Kim Jong ... And my friend was embarrassed to walk with him. Everyone who looked into the stroller asked, why is he so skimpy !!! Watch the French film Mad Wedding (2014). Very ... timely filmed!
              1. Icelord
                Icelord 14 October 2020 16: 05 New
                I tried to insert a photo of his own nephew's wife, she was not a Chinese woman. In jpeg format, you can insert?, But that kind of nonsense comes out.
                1. Icelord
                  Icelord 14 October 2020 16: 05 New
                  Oh no, it didn't work out. Yes, such a trend today
                2. kalibr
                  14 October 2020 17: 31 New
                  Well, what ... will eat duck in Peking style ... The main thing is that the man is not greedy, but the woman has a pleasant voice. Because, as with old age, he does not change! She is beautiful in the photo! My granddaughter even said: beautiful! And she is a very modern girl.
                  1. Icelord
                    Icelord 14 October 2020 18: 28 New
                    This is, of course, Vyacheslav Olegovich, but the thought gnaws at me, who will their child be? Such a mixture. Grandma is a quarter German, a quarter Russian, half Polish, grandfather is Ukrainian, that is, dad there is also a cross between))). And my mother is Chinese. Here's a vinaigrette)))
                    1. kalibr
                      14 October 2020 18: 38 New
                      Dear Igor. I will refer to my example. The surname of the grandfather is Taratynov and there are several versions that this is a Russian peasant-joker, and ... a man from the East, "from the Saracens", but baptized. Grandma is also ... not fair, like mom. The native father is Ukrainian ... And that says it all. It turned out something that the Cypriots took for the Continental Greek, and the Turks for the Turk! My daughter is all in me, although my wife is a golden-haired blonde from "Kalevala", and in Turkey she is "her own", but dad is blond and here is the granddaughter - all glows from gold and whiteness. And the eyes are light gray ... Dad or grandmother? Who knows ... So who knows who their child will go to, whose genes will be dominant ??? In theory, this should be a very smart child, and the outside should be just an exhibition!
          2. kalibr
            13 October 2020 07: 42 New
            Ay, yes Vladislav! Well, I gave it out !!!
  9. Sovpadenie
    Sovpadenie 12 October 2020 13: 59 New
    I don't know if this is a legend or a historical fact. But I read that the castles of the Ghibellines were decorated with teeth in the form of a "dovetail". It is believed that the bifurcated form of the teeth symbolized a two-headed eagle - the coat of arms of the Holy Roman Empire.
    There is a historical anecdote that the Italian architects, having arrived in Moscow, decided that the local prince was certainly not for the Pope - therefore, teeth in the spirit of Ghibellines appeared on the walls of the Kremlin.
    1. Aviator_
      Aviator_ 13 October 2020 17: 59 New
      The brigade of Italian guest workers who built the Moscow Kremlin was made of Ghibellines, hence the battlements on the wall.
  10. mr.ZinGer
    mr.ZinGer 12 October 2020 18: 33 New
    I noticed that in this castle there are teeth of various shapes on the walls. Swallowtail, Ghibelline and Straight, Guelph.
    1. kalibr
      13 October 2020 07: 40 New
      Why is it written in the article ...