A masterpiece of military architecture
The War Museum is located inside the fifteenth-century castle of Rovereto which, with its strong walls and mighty bastions, represents a unique example of Venetian fortress in Trentino.
Thanks to recent renovation work, in addition to the spaces that host the museum, it is now possible to visit the Marino and Malipiero towers where collections of weapons from prehistoric, medieval and modern times are displayed. In addition, there are tunnels which you can walk through and the embankment that lead to the discovery of the numerous embrasures in the walls.
The visit to the Castle is included in the entrance ticket.
The castle of Rovereto was built at the end of XIII century by the Castelbarco family as a lookout post to guard the Adige’s Valley. The position of the castle allowed the simultaneous control of the roads that ran in the bottom of Vallagarina between the south and the north and Vallarsa which connected the Adige Valley with Vicenza.
The current pentagonal shape dates back to the time of the Venetian domination over the city of Lagarina (1416-1509).
In 1487, during the war between Venice and the Archduke of Austria, Sigismund, Count of Tyrol, the castle was besieged for 37 days and surrendered only after being seriously damaged by artillery. Quickly taken back by the Venetians, it was rebuilt by transforming the pre-existing medieval structure. The fortress is one of the most distinguished monuments of military architecture of the transition period; the structure is equipped with a siege well, strong walls and bastions fitted with dozens of gunboats and owes its appearance to the work of talented Venetians military architects, such as Giacomo Coltrino and Bartolomeo d’Alviano.
In the Venetian age it was the residence of a Castellan/Lord, while a “podestà” (mayor) administered justice in the Palazzo Pretorio, erected in the square below.
With the Venetian defeat at Agnadello, in 1509, Rovereto passed to the Austrian Empire. Due to this, it lost any strategic importance, the castle fell into neglect and suffered heavy changes and fires in the last in 1797. In XIX century it was used as a shelter for beggars and the poor and as a house of punishment. From 1859 to 1918, it was used as the headquarters of two companies of the 3rd Kaiserjäger regiment.
During the Great War, from the evacuation of Rovereto in May 1915 to November 1918, the castle and the city, which remained in Austrian hands, were subjected to heavy bombardment by the Italian artillery.
Restored during the Twenties, since 1921 the castle houses the Italian Historical Museum of War.
Since 2001, the castle has been interested by a complex restoration project promoted by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage of the Autonomous Province of Trento in collaboration with the Municipality of Rovereto. The renovation, still in progress, is gradually allowing the public to access again the spaces of the fortress.