The Castel Sismondo in Rimini is named after Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. This man was feudal lord of Rimini itself and the slightly more southerly coastal town of Fano from 1432 to 1468. The castle was built in the mid-15th century and included the prince’s private residence.
Castel Sismondo Rimini
Address: Castel Sismono – Piazza Malatesta, 37 – Rimini. Telephone: +39 0541 704704. Opening hours: From 10am to 7pm; Saturday and Sunday from 3pm to 7pm. Entrance fee: not known. Alternative name: Rocca Malatestiana. (Note that prices and times may be subject to change.)
History and description
Construction began on 20 March 1437 at 18:48h. This improbably precise time, on the penultimate Wednesday of Lent, had been determined by the court astrologer. In 1446, Sigismondo proclaimed the castle to be completed, but in reality the work did not finish until 1454. However, 1446 was a lucky year for the prince.
According to writings and to Prince Sigismondo himself, he himself was the architect of the castle. To make sure everyone was aware of this, he had marble plaques hung everywhere. What his exact contribution was is not known, but there is no doubt that he had help from several specialists. One of these architects was Filippo Brunelleschi, the architect of the famous dome of Florence cathedral, who spent several months in Rimini in 1438.
Before Sigismondo could start working, some pre-existing buildings first needed to be demolished. These were, apart from some palaces of the prince himself, the Baptistery, the Santa Caterina Convent and the upper part of the cathedral’s bell tower.
From 1821, the castle served as a barracks for a time.
The moat was closed in 1857.
The castle is characterized by immense towers and thick, sloping walls. The entrance on the city side was protected by an earthen wall with a double ravelin and drawbridges.
The helmet, elephant and four-petal rose near the coat of arms above the gate are the symbols of the Malatesta family coat of arms. Since this relief has a slightly Gothic appearance, one assumes that its maker came from the Veneto region. The prince’s name is depicted in also Gothic letters on either side of the coat of arms.
On the space between the gate and the coat of arms is one of the aforementioned inscriptions in honor of “architect” Sigismondo.
The prince himself lived in the central part of the castle. The prince had a habit of showing off his his wealth and power by holding lavish feasts in this part.
The halls in this central part were decorated with frescoes, tapestries and curtains.
The 3300 m² castle complex consists of the three-floor Palazzo di Isotta, named after the prince’s wife, a large central courtyard, a two-floor central body and the so-called Maschio (donjon).
This donjon consists of two floors connected by a spiral staircase.