Castello di San Gottardo

A circa 18 km a nord di Trento, nella famosa pianura Rotaliana si trova la borgata di Mezzocorona. Nella parete del monte che sovrasta l’abitato è situato, quasi in posizione inaccessibile, il diroccato complesso del castel S.Gottardo. Situato a nord-ovest del paese, annidato nella singolare fenditura della parete rocciosa che si innalza sopra castel Firmian, è uno dei più suggestivi esempi di costruzione medievaleall’interno di una caverna o sottoroccia.

Fotografia del Castello di San Gottardo


The village of Mezzocorona is located 18 km to the north of Trento, on the Rotaliana Plain. The ruins of San Gottardo Castle lie in an almost inaccessible position on the side of the mount facing the town. Situated north-west of the village and nestling in a peculiar crack of the rocky wall above Firmian Castle, it is one of the most striking examples of a medieval building inside a cave or in the rocks.

The spacious cave hosting the remains of the stronghold can be reached via a steep path that starts from the castle below.

It takes about twenty minutes to reach this cave, located at around 370 m above sea level, 150 metres above the village and about 100 metres above Firmian Castle.

Due to its structure, it is considered one of the most prestigious in the Alps and in ancient times was the largest and most striking “crowns” in the whole of the Principality of Trento.

In Trentino, these castles are called “crowns”, as they are peculiar buildings built inside caves or caverns on over-hanging rock-faces. They are known in German as Lueg or Loch. Today the term crona (crown in the local dialect) is still used to refer to ledges and niches on rocky walls and apparently derives from the Celtic word carn.

The oldest name given to the castle was “Corona di Mezo” and only later would it acquire the present-day name of San Gottardo Castle.

Mezo was a general definition referring to the whole area stretching both to the right and the left of the Noce River.

Mezo or Mez appears to derive from the Latin medium or from mezes (i.e. locus palustris) although this term is more ancient and certainly pre-Latin.

The building is now in ruins, but it is still possible to identify the main entrance, above which remain traces of a frescoed double crest with a dragon and the arrow slits that were used to defend the entrance.

Other parts of the building still remain: the ruins probably used as a defensive outpost, the remains of the main palace where the Counts Firmian lived and the chapel dedicated to San Gottardo, the village patron, hollowed out into the rock and built in the early 13th century, soon becoming a sort of sanctuary frequented by pilgrims.

There is also a water spring that flows out of the rock into a pool. The ancient castle was certainly built before 1181, when the first mention of it appears in documents. However, when the new concept of life established by the Renaissance began to take hold here in our valleys, caves were abandoned for more comfortable and noble dwellings.

This also happened to San Gottardo Castle, acquired by Nicolò Firmian in the 15th century together with the jurisdiction of Mezzocorona, following his marriage to Dorotea, the last descendant of the Mez Family. Perhaps persuaded by his bride, the Count rebuilt the fortified house at the foot of the cliff and turned it into the present-day dwelling known as Firmian Castle: it was more comfortable, had a square tower and a solid crenelated bailey surrounded by deep ditches.

The ancient legend of the Mezzocorona basilisk is linked to San Gottardo Castle.


L. Melchiori: Il castello e l’eremitaggio di S. Gottardo a Mezzocorona, Mezzocorona 1989

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Mercoledì, 22 Aprile 2015 - Ultima modifica: Venerdì, 14 Luglio 2017