Castles

The first castles

In the Middle Ages, the Aosta Valley was a compulsory passage towards Alpine passes. Thus, toll collections were an important source of power and income. Since the Aosta Valley wasn't directly controlled by any authority, it was easy to take the land and appoint yourself as its lord; therefore, local nobles moved away from the towns, in search of land where they could extend their domains. Castles, towers and fortified houses arose on unaccessible elevations to dominate vast stretches of land from above.

In the Aosta Valley, first castles date back from the beginning of the XI century; often they were built on previous fortified settlements. They consisted in a square tower, or donjon, surrounded by walls. Typical examples of fortifications from the 11th and 12th century are Graines Castle in Brusson, the castle of Cly in Saint-Denis and Châtel-Argent castle in Villeneuve. Their chapels show the extreme simplicity of Romanesque religious architecture.

The evolution of defensive castles into mansions

In the following centuries, castles gets more complex. Residential functions, which were originally distributed in separate buildings, are brought together under one roof, and become more important than defensive functions. It's the case of Ussel castle and Verrès castle.

Late Gothic Fénis castle and Issogne castle complete the evolution of defensive castles of the Aosta Valley into urban mansions.

 

Savoy castle

Savoy castle

Savoy Castle stands in Gressoney-Saint-Jean, surrounded by greenery and the colours of a rocky alpine garden. Margherita of Savoy spent her summers there.

Fortress of Bard

Fortress of Bard

The fortress of Bard was an unconquerable nineteenth century barrier fortress. It is now a European cultural centre, with museum and exhibition spaces.

Issogne castle

Issogne castle

An expression of the metamorphosis of Gothic to Renaissance, Issogne castle holds surprising art treasures.

Verrès castle

Verrès castle

Elegant features, such as the large staircase with flying buttresses and the mullioned windows in dressed stone, are linked with the essential defence devices.

Ussel castle

Ussel castle

Ussel castle is an impressive single body defensive castle that seems to emerge from the rock to dominate the Dora valley and the district of Châtillon.

Gamba castle

Gamba castle

Gamba castle holds the regional collection of modern and contemporary art with over 1,500 works of art presented in 13 rooms of the castle.

Cly castle

Cly castle

Cly castle is one of the oldest castles of the Aosta Valley. The large defensive walls, crowned by gabled Guelph merlons, surround constructions erected between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries.

Fénis castle

Fénis castle

Towers and crenellated walls that evoke adventure and fairy-tale charm make Fénis castle one of Aosta Valley's most famous.

Sarre castle

Sarre castle

Sarre castle, the hunting and holiday residence of the House of Savoy, tells about the life of the royal family in the Aosta Valley.

Sarriod de La Tour

Sarriod de La Tour

While the near Saint-Pierre castle dominate from above the hill, the castle of Sarriod de La Tour stands among orchards, on a flat area ending in a cliff over the Dora Baltea.

Introd castle

Introd castle

Introd castle with its original polygonal shape, the castle park and the surrounding buildings form an interesting architectural group.

De l'Archet tower

De l'Archet tower

The tall tower has a square base and is part of a lower and wider building which also has a square base. The De l'Archet tower (late 10th century) is one of Aosta Valley's oldest towers.

Meteo
Meteo

Details
Aosta
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Tourist Areas
Tourist Areas

Mont Blanc

Gran Paradiso

Great Saint Bernard

Aosta and surroundings

Matterhorn

Monte Rosa

Central Valley

Guided tours
Guided tours