The Venetian stronghold
Rovereto castle was built during the Venetian occupation of the city (1416-1509) on a previous stronghold erected by the Castelbarco family, in the 14th century.
The fortress is one of the most distinguished pieces of military architecture of this transitional period, with a siege well, thick boundary walls and bastions furnished with dozens of embrasures.
In 1487, during the war between Venice and the Archduke of Austria, Sigismund, Count of the Tyrol, the castle was besieged for 37 days and capitulated only after suffering severe damage at the hands of the Austrian artillery. The fortress was rapidly re-conquered and repaired by the Republic in whose possession it firmly remained till 1509. Giacomo Coltrino and Bartolomeo d’Alviano, military architects from Venice were two notable military architects from the Venetian Republic who contributed to its construction.
The castle’s architectural form reflects its military function with its three corner towers, the small bastion and spur from which the artillery could protect the fortress walls from all directions.
During Venetian dominion, a Lord of the castle was resident, while matters of justice and administration were carried out by a captain in the Pretorian Palace at the foot of the castle.
The castle was ceded to the Hapsburgs in 1509 and thereafter lost its importance as a military stronghold. The building underwent serious alterations and was victim of several fires, the last being in 1797.
The seventeenth century saw the castle being used as a poor house, a penal colony and between 1859 and 1918 it was headquarters to two companies of the Third Kaiserjäger Regiment.
The city of Rovereto was evacuated in May 1915, at the outbreak of the First World War in Italy and both the city and the castle, left in Austrian hands, were heavily bombed by the Italian artillery.
In the 1920’s the castle underwent restoration to house the Museo Storico Italiano della Guerra.
A new itinerary allows visitors to discover towers and tunnels, the terreplein and the dozens of embrasures found in the walls.