Scaliger Castle

Walk on the walls, venture down passageways and climb up a tower of this ancient fortress on Lake Garda in northern Italy.

Scaliger Castle is a 13th-century medieval stronghold, one of the best-preserved castles in Italy. This ancient fortification is surrounded by the waters of Lake Garda and stands at the entrance to Sirmione.

Access the town and the castle by a narrow bridge leading to the peninsula. To get inside the castle, walk across a drawbridge. Go under the portcullis and step into the courtyard, which is surrounded by four tall walls and three corner towers.

Standing within the courtyard at a height of 154 feet (47 meters) is another tower. Beneath it are the castle's dungeons. Climb up to the top of the tower via its stairway for a good view of the layout of the defensive stronghold. When you are back on the ground, see the stone remains of an earlier monastery near the passages to the dungeons.

Stroll along the passageway to the darsena, the castle's dock, which historians think was built before the 15th century. Other sites in the stone citadel include a small guardhouse and the second courtyard, once used as a timber yard for the town's population. Come back to the main courtyard and climb up the staircase to walk on top of the crenellated walls. From this lofty position, enjoy a good view of the dock and the lake north toward Monte Baldo.

While you are here, visit the Sant’Anna della Rocca Church, located in front of the fortress. It is thought to have been used by soldiers who were stationed here. See the fragment of a 14th-century fresco above the altar and an image of the Virgin Mary painted on a stone.

Scaliger Castle is open every day except Monday. There is an admission fee, which includes discounts for citizens of the European Union between 18 and 25 and over 65 years old. There is no fee for children under the age of 18. The first Sunday of the month is free for everyone. If you have come by car, pay to park in the parking area just south of the castle.

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