The castle that dominates the Italian city of Este.3 min read
The Castle that dominates the city of Este, near Padova, in Northern Italy, consists of large towers and a mighty city wall, about one kilometer long, which embraces the extreme southern extension of the Euganean Hills. This building testifies to the role of primary importance that the Este territory played in the Middle Ages.
The oldest part of the current fortification consists of a circle of walls with the remains of a small church and the foundations of a small tower, probably dating back to the 6th century AD.
The first attestation of a real castrum in this place dates back to 1115, and is connected to the jurisdiction and defense of the territory of which the feudal family was invested that took its name from Este.
During the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, the marquises of Este extended the fort by constructing a series of curtain walls and residential buildings. The marquisate castle reached its maximum splendor with Azzo VI, which transformed it into an important center of troubadour culture. Poets, artists and jesters were hosted in his court, where the praises of the marquis and the beautiful daughter Beatrice sang.
The fortunes of the castle changed abruptly due to the violent wars between the Guelph faction (to which the Estensi headed) and the Ghibellines, who besieged and damaged the fortification several times. In 1249 the castle was destroyed by Ezzelino III da Romano, who then proceeded to restore it, but in 1294 the paduans, now the undisputed masters of the territory, demolished it again.
Ezzelino, vicar of Emperor Federico II of Swabia, was the same that ordered the construction of the tower of Monselice Castle in the 13th century.
The current configuration of the castle dates back to 1339, when Ubertino da Carrara, lord of Padua, decided to rebuild it in the forms that we still see today.
The present building, in fact, dates back to the fourteenth century and was erected on the ruins of a previous fortification, destroyed by the troops of Ezzelino da Romano. The oldest nucleus, dating back to the period of great invasions, consisted of a circle of walls with a little church and a large central building. The first structure was incorporated as of eleventh century within a series of walls and residential buildings until, towards the mid-thirteenth century, the Marquis of Este restored the castle as a defence structure. The construction has a square base, surrounded by a sturdy wall spaced by twelve little towers. The keep is on the hill, in a position of dominance over the entire town. It culminates in a square tower and has a small castle (or gate of Assistance) to the north-east, that originally constituted the entrance to the fortress. The area within the walls is now equipped as a public garden. The castle was used for defence purposes until the town’s spontaneous surrender to the Republic of Venice, at the beginning of the fifteenth century, when lost its military value, the entire structure was sold to the rich and powerful Venetian family Mocenigo. They were the ones who had the Palazzetto built in the late sixteenth-century, where the National Archaelogical Museum of Este is now located, and erected a further wall that incorporated the whole new urban center of Este, already delimited by the Bisatto canal. Originally, the grand palace consisted of two specular buildings, which required the demolition of a couple of medieval towers. The eastern wing was however destroyed by a fire in the eighteenth century.