Once built to defend the ancient town of Este, the centuries-old Castello Carrarese is now the town’s symbol and one of its most frequently visited attractions.
Perfectly situated on the town’s hilltop, this impressive architectural complex is the work of Ubertino da Carrara, who rebuilt the castle between 1339 and 1340. The present castle walls, crowned with battlements and interspaced with 12 rectangular towers, are 10 metres high, 1.5 metres thick and about 1,000 metres long. An imposing mastio (keep), built atop a gently sloping hillside, overlooks the large community and the Euganean Hills.
Another mighty structure called the Porta del Soccorso, originally built by Ubertino da Carrara as an entrance to the castle, is in the north-eastern corner of the castle’s walls. The construction consists of a tall tower, a ravelin, a redoubt, a passageway and a turret on the eastern corner.
The first historical record that mentions the castle dates from 1115, when the town was under the jurisdiction of the Marquises of Este. However, archaeological excavations that have been conducted around the castle bear witness to the fact that a small fortress had already existed there at the dawn of the early Middle Ages.
Every evening when the sun goes down, the castle blazes with a red bright light, as a reminder of that tragic night in 1249 when Ezzelino da Romano, after suddenly attacking the Guelph’s castle, left a trail of blood and devastation. Later, in 1294, the medieval fortification was besieged again and razed to the ground by the Paduans.
Under the rule of Azzo VI, the castle of Este became the first and the most important centre of troubadour culture in north-eastern Italy. It was Beatrice, the daughter of Azzo VI, whose beauty, grace and virtue inspired medieval minstrels and troubadours.
Having lost any military importance by the second half of the 16th century, the castle became the property of the noble Venetian Mocenigo family, who transformed it in a summer residence. In 1560, the family began building a new palace, which originally consisted of two symmetrical wings. In the 18th century, the east wing of the palace was destroyed by a fire, while the west part remains undamaged and today houses the National Atestino Museum.
At the end of the last century, the castle walls underwent extensive restoration, while the original grounds of the castle were developed over 100 years ago into a charming garden, in which the valuable arboreal species, beautiful roses and a marvellous ancient wisteria that creeps up the medieval walls make this place a peaceful haven for most visitors.