The Orsini-Colonna Castle is located right in the center of Avezzano. It was built towards the end of the 15th century. As a result of, first, an earthquake and later bombing, by the mid-20th century there was very little left of it. It is now the seat of the Pinacoteca d’Arte Moderna.
Orsini-Colonna Castle Avezzano
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address: Piazza Castello – Avezzano (tel. +39 0863 5011). Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 08.00 to 20.00. Closed: Saturday and Sunday.
History and Description
The Castello Orsini was commissioned by Gentile Virginio Orsini in 1490, as indicated on an inscription on the pointed arch above the main entrance. Orsini had the castle built around the ruins of a tower previously constructed by Gentile da Palearia, feudal lord of Manoppello.
In 1565 Marcantonio Colonna had the up to then not too impressive fortress enlarged. He also had the Renaissance garden laid out.
The castle remained in the hands of the Orsini family until 1806, when the feudal lord system was abolished. After this, it was owned by the Lante della Rovere family for a century.
In 1905 it was purchased by the vice-mayor of the city. Francesco Spina (nicknamed Checcino) had part of the castle converted into a hotel. The rest of the building he rented partly to a school and partly to the city court.
On January 13, 1915, Avezzano was hit by an earthquake. Everything above the second floor collapsed, so that all the modifications made by Marcantonio Colonna in the 16th century were lost.
In the 1940s, while the castle was being rebuilt, it was bombed and razed to the ground. Only a few ruins remained standing.
After World War II, the mayor allowed some gypsy families to move into what was left of the castle for a time. A later, socialist administration had it turned into a kennel.
During excavations, the foundations of some interior walls were found, along with part of the castle cellars.
Currently, the castle houses the Pinacoteca d’Arte Moderna.
A striking feature of the castle is that its four corner towers are exactly on the north-south and east-west axes.