The Castelvecchio is a castle along the river Adige in Verona. Ir was constructed in the 14th century and more or less served as the royal palace of the Della Scala family. Before being turned into a museum, it served as a storage space for arms and as a military barracks.
Adress, opening hours and admission
Address: Museo di Castelvecchio – Corso Castelvecchio, 2 – Verona (tel. +39 045 594734). Bus: 21, 22, 23, 24, 31, 32, 33, 41, 42, 61, 62, 91, 94, 95, 165, 173. Opening times museum: Tuesdays till Sundays from 08.30 till 19.30. Mondays from 13.45 till 19.30.
The Castelvecchio was built between 1354 and 1357 on top of an already existing fortress. It was constructed by order of Cangrande II (of the Della Scala family). Its original name was Castello di San Marino in Aquaro. The present name was coined when the Visconti had the even bigger castle on the Colle di San Pietro built.
The castle was to be both a country estate and a defensive fortress against attacks from the city itself and from the bridge connecting it to what is now known as Süd-Tirol.
After the fall of the Della Scala dynasty the Venetian rulers used the castle as a weapon depot. From the 18th century onward it also functioned as a military academy. Napoleon first, an then the Austrians, used it as an army barracks.
In 1923 a restoration took away the military character of the castle. The merlons and the roofs of the towers that had been removed by the French were returned and the architecture of the castle took on a more Gothic outlook.
In 1928 the castle became the seat of the Museo di Castelvecchio.
In 1943 the meeting that led to the declaration of the Republic of Salò, which made Italy into a sort of puppet state of the Germans, was held in the castle. The republic lasted from September 1943 till May 1945. During this meeting the fascists who had deposed Mussolini were sentenced to death.
After the war the heavily bombarded and hence severely damaged castle stood empty. It was not until 1957 that, under the architect Carlo Scarpa, a first restoration was started. During the restoration the medieval Porta del Morbio, which had been incorporated in the caste walls, was rediscovered.
The Castelvecchio consists of two parts separated by a 13th century wall and seven towers. The right part includes the central square, while the left part constitutes the actual Scaligeri castle and had a double defensive wall and a smaller courtyard. (Scaligeri is a sort of nickname of the Della Scala family.)
The central part is taken up by the Torre del Mastio. This enormous tower was constructed in 1375 and leads to the Ponte Scaligero over the river Adige.
The collection of the Castelvecchio Museum is spread out over 29 rooms and consists of sculptures, paintings and frescoes from the early Christian period till the 18th century.