SCALIGER CASTLE
Sirmione, Lake Garda

The peninsula of Sirmione is protected by an imposing medieval fortress: the Scaliger Castle of Sirmione. It is one of the best preserved medieval castles in Italy, and a rare example of lake fortification. But above all, it is a place that exudes centuries of history and a magical atmosphere, surrounded by the crystal clear water of Lake Garda

The town center of Sirmione, to which the castle provides access, is located on the southern shore of the lake, on a peninsula that acts as a watershed between the territory of Brescia and Verona.

Remember that the city center is closed to traffic, so – if you want to visit the Scaliger castle – you must park your car outside the town walls. 

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Discover the Scaliger Castle of Sirmione

Some useful information for your visit

KEY FEATURES of Scaliger Castle of Sirmione

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The Scaliger castle is the only access point to the town centre: after leaving your car outside the walls, you will have to cross it on foot.

The castle is surrounded by water on all sides, and on one of these – at the time of its construction – a dock was built. 

The castle has all the typical features of Scaliger architecture, very common on the Verona side of Lake Garda: it can be recognized by the dovetail battlements, although some parts, built at different times, have a structure known as spearhead.

Once it was possible to access the castle both from the outside and from the inside of the village through drawbridges, now it is possible only from the inside. Once you arrive at the entrance porch, a staircase leads to the drawbridge: here begins a stairway of 146 steps leading to the patrol walkways.

Walking along the patrol walkways, you will enjoy a magnificent view of the lake and the dock below. Recently the dock has been reopened to the public and can also be visited at night, for an even more evocative experience: the visit is allowed to groups of 25 people, because the space is limited and there are no balustrades of protection. 

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Because of its position of great strategic importance the castle has always had a defensive function. For this reason, it does not have elaborate decorations inside, but only spades or stone cones along the walkways. 

Under the large inner portico of the fortress there is a museum containing Roman and medieval finds, as well as a short exhibition illustrating the main information about the castle and its history. In addition to the patrol walkways, the museum, and the dock, you can also visit the Mastio, the highest tower, to enjoy a spectacular view of Sirmione and Lake Garda.

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OPENING TIMES, ENTRY PRICES & more

Opening times

Summer (april 1st - september 30th)
Tuesday-Saturday: from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm (last entrance 6.45 pm).
Sunday and holidays: from 9.15 am to 5.45 pm (last entrance 5 pm).

Winter (October 1st - March 31st)
Tuesday-Saturday: from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm (last entrance 6.45 pm).
Sunday: from 8.30 am to 1.30 pm (last entrance 12.45 am).
Holidays: from 8.30 am to 7.30 pm (last entrance 6.45 pm).

Entry price

Full price: €6
EU citizens (18-25 years old): €3
Kids (up to 18): free

Visit the official website of the italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage to check the requirements for reduced tickets.

Address

Piazza Castello 34, Sirmione (BS)

The best experiences around the Scaliger Castle of Sirmione

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HOW TO GET to the Scaliger Castle of Sirmione

The castle is located at the entrance to the centre of Sirmione, at the beginning of the peninsula of the same name.

It can be reached by car, via the A4 Milan-Venice motorway or the Brescia-Desenzano ring road, always leaving at Desenzano del Garda. Along the entire road to the castle there are large parking lots, as the village of Sirmione is not accessible to traffic. 

Alternatively, you can take the Brescia-Verona line train and get off at Desenzano station, then take bus no. 26 to Sirmione

HISTORY of the Scaliger Castle of Sirmione

Sirmione was a place already known to the ancient Romans both for its strategic position, being a peninsula that stretches into the lake, and for the beauty of its landscape. This is testified by the numerous finds of the time, including the so-called “Grottoes of Catullus“, which – despite the name – is actually a great Roman villa of the 1st century AD (and never belonged to the Latin poet). 

In fact, the castle was built in the 13th century on the remains of a pre-existing Roman fortification and a small Lombard monastery. Its construction was ordered by Leonardino della Scala, lord of Verona, better known as Mastino della Scala. Hence the name by which the fortress is still known: Scaliger Castle

In the following centuries two courtyards and additional fortifications were added to the original structure; the dock that we can see and visit today is the work of the Venetians, who assumed the dominion over Sirmione and the territories of Verona in the fifteenth century.

From the seventeenth century the Scaliger Castle of Sirmione lost its importance in favour of the fortress of Desenzano del Garda, but today still remains one of the best preserved castles in Italy.

The legend of the Scaliger Castle of Sirmione

Like any respectable castle, Sirmione has its own ghost. Legend has it that two young lovers, Ebengardo and Arice, lived in the castle. One night, a Venetian knight, Elalberto, sought refuge at the castle. This knight, struck by the beauty of the young Arice, entered his room at night to force himself on her.

The young woman, frightened, cried out and then Elalberto stabbed her. Ebengardo, having arrived in the room, stabbed Elalberto in turn, blinded by anger. Since then, the knight has been forced to roam the castle in search of his beloved Arice, trapped in the world of the living far from her. 

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