The Castle of Monselice is an imposing medieval fortification commissioned by Emperor Frederick II, Duke of Swabia. It stands atop the Colle della Rocca in Monselice and is accessible via a path that starts from the steps next to Villa Duodo.
Built on the ruins of an earlier, small Byzantine castle conquered by the Lombards in 602 AD, the ancient parish church of Santa Giustina—later rebuilt halfway up the mountain and today known as Duomo Vecchio—had to be demolished to make room for its construction.
HISTORY OF THE CASTLE
In 1239, due to conflict with the Guelph marquis Azzo VII d’Este, Frederick II named the city of Monselice the seat of the imperial court of appeal for the Marca Trevigiana (corresponding to the region of Veneto and part of Trentino and Friuli) and ordered the castle to be reconstructed and a new wall to be built. The complex has a sturdy base shaped like a truncated pyramid, cladded with eight-metre-high blocks of trachyte, topped by a quadrangular tower that was originally very high, but today appears to be uncovered.
After the Carraresi conquered Monselice in the 14th century, the Lords of Padua enclosed Frederick’s structure within a more extensive city wall, which also served to protect the various villages that had sprung up on the hillside. Some of this wall is still clearly visible in parts of the historic centre of the present-day city.
With the advent of Venetian rule from 1405, the entire fortified complex on Colle della Rocca was sold off to noble families, including the Marcello and Duodo families, who built their holiday homes there. However, the defensive function of the hill became necessary once again for the last time in 1509, when the troops of the League of Cambrai, at war with Venice, besieged the city, damaging the walls and the 13th-century fortification.
A RICH HERITAGE TO DISCOVER
Archaeological research has uncovered residential buildings, crenellated curtain walls, the apse of the ancient Pieve di Santa Giustina church and a Lombard Antiquarium, the rich heritage of which is now displayed in the Ca’ Marcello library of the Lombard Antiquarium.
Various archaeological finds consisting of pottery, various metal tools and silver objects are also on display inside the Keep. The exhibition is accompanied by information boards, as well as a model explaining the history of this articulated hilltop defensive structure.