Gressoney-Saint-Jean - Castles and Towers
Queen Margaret Castle stands at the foot of Ranzola hill, in the place known as “Belvedere“, as it dominates the whole of the valley as far as the Lyskamm glacier.
The building was erected between 1899 (the first stone was laid on 24 August) and 1904. In 1981 it was purchased by Val d‘Aosta Regional Council.
The architect Emilio Stramucci, who designed the neo-Baroque decorations for Palazzo Reale in Turin and for the Quirinale in Rome, designed the mediaeval-style castle, described as “15th-century Lombard style“, quite frequent in France and Savoy, the homelands of the reigning sovereigns. It consists of a central rectangular body, with four cusp-roofed towers, each different from the others. The exteriors is covered in grey stone from the quarries of Chiappey in Gressoney, Gaby and Vert. The castle is on three floors: the ground floor, with living quarters, the noble floor, with the royal apartments and the second floor (not open to visitors), reserved for gentlemen of the court; the cellars are located underground. Only a few pieces of the original furniture remain; the other furniture on show comes from Villa Margherita, property of the Beck Peccoz Barons, in which the Queen stayed before the manor’s construction; the original pieces include the tapestries in linen and cotton, decorated with a chinĂ© effect. The ornamental pictures are the work of the young painter and restorer Carlo Cussetti, who later worked on the new wing of Palazzo Reale in Turin. The mediaeval-inspired coffered ceilings, wooden panels and furniture are by the Turin wood carver Dellera, who supplied the Royal House.
On the ground floor, the main entrance leads to a vast hall with columns and a painted coffered ceiling, which leads in turn onto other rooms. On one side are the gaming rooms and the sitting rooms, connected to the semi-circular veranda looking over the valley. On the opposite side are the dining room, with its richly painted decorations on the walls, fireplace and ceiling coffers, and parchment-carved boiserie. Neogothic is also the style used in the so-called “staff-bearer’s entrance” in the octagonal tower situated in the north-west corner.
An elegant wooden staircase with griffins and eagles leads to the royal apartments, preceded by a hall whose ceiling bears the inscription “Hic manebimus optime“. The Queen’s apartment occupies the best position: from the windows of the delightful sitting room in the northern tower, you can enjoy the view of Mount Rosa and the entire valley. The false fabrics painted between the windows are reminiscent of the decoration in the baronial hall of Issogne castle. The adjacent apartment was occupied by the Hereditary Prince Humbert. On the opposite side of the hall are situated the apartments of the King and of the Marchioness Pes of Villamarina, lady-in-waiting to the Queen.
The kitchens were located in a building a short distance away and were connected to the castle by an underground Decauville track.
Other annexes include Villa Belvedere, originally used for guests and the royal gendarmerie, and the little house known as Romitaggio Carducci, dedicated to the poet who was a devoted admirer and singer to the queen.
The foot of the manor hosts a rocky garden full of Alpine, botanical species.
11025 GRESSONEY-SAINT-JEAN (AO)
Telephone:(+39) 0125 355398
Fax:(+39) 0125 355397
Tourist Office - Gressoney-Saint-Jean
11025 GRESSONEY-SAINT-JEAN (AO)
opening days and timetables
Until June 30th 2013:
daily opening from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.
Last visit 30 minutes before the closing time
(ex. if the site closes at 6 p.m., last entry at 5.30 p.m.)
Full price ticket: â‚¬ 3,00
Reduced entrance-fee : â‚¬ 2,00 (groups of at least 25 paying visitors and university students)
Free admission : > 65 years, < 18 years, disabled persons and their companions
Rules for use
Entry allowed for groups up to 22 people per visit.
Advance sale of tickets from opening time onwards, following the arrival order, until last visit.
The site is accessible to people with disabilities.