Last Updated on November 9, 2023 by Laura Teso
Castelvecchio (1354-1356) is a castle guarding the river Adige in the centre of Verona. In the Middle Ages it was a military post of the dynasty that ruled the city, the Scaliger family. It now hosts the Castelvecchio museum.
An incredible theft occurred in November, 2015 when three criminals immobilized the security guard and the cashier. And then forced a vigilante to accompany them in the rooms to stole the paintings. Among the stolen paintings there were masterpieces by Tintoretto, Pisanello, Rubens, Bellini, and Caroto. Luckily the paintings were retrieved in May, 2016.
A bit of History
Castelvecchio (meaning old castle) was built by Cangrande II della Scala, lord of Verona, as a fortification to control the river, after the conspiracy of his stepbrother.
During the Napoleonic occupation of Verona, the French suppressed 190 churches and monasteries. Therefore they confiscated many works of art. For example paintings by Mantegna, Titian and Veronese were sent to Paris. Then they used the castle as armory and barracks and made many changes (elimination of the battlements and towers).
In 1923 Verona decided to transform the castle into a museum. To return to the city the image of the medieval castle, they raised the towers again, restored the walkways and the battlements and transformed the facades.
With World War II, however, the castle suffered serious damages: in 1945 after the Allies had bombed the eastern wing of the castle, the Germans on the run blew up the bridge.
It was the great architect Carlo Scarpa who directed the work of reconstruction and preparation of the museum (1958-1975) after his successful works: Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo, the Uffizi in Florence, the Gipsoteca Canoviana in Possagno, Museo Correr and Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. If you’re about to go to Venice and you love art, here is my post about Gallerie dell’Accademia.
Scarpa decided to give prominence to the original parts of the Castle by opening windows in the floor or cuts on the walls to allow the viewer to see the ancient parts of the construction. Combining ancient and modern materials, placing the works in relation with each other, he created an essential museum route, with openings to the outside to break the monotony and enjoy beautiful views of the Castle itself.
I visited the museum on a Saturday afternoon with my husband. Let’s say that the experience didn’t start very well. The young guy at the ticket office gave us immediately two full price tickets without asking if we were entitled to some discount. Which we were. While my husband was already paying, I realized it in by reading a small panel because we possess a particular bookshop membership card. In all the museums we’ve been to so far, the staff at the ticket office has always been kind enough to ask. Not this time.
Never mind. Because I love this museum, especially thanks to the work of preparation of Scarpa. It ‘s wonderful to see the works that almost talk to each other, arranged so that you can see them closely and have the opportunity to peek through the windows and see the battlements of the castle or the hills beyond the bridge.
The museum’s collections start with Romanesque sculptures, coming from religious buildings collapsed or destroyed over the centuries. The rooms upstairs exhibit paintings from the Gothic period to the eighteenth century, except one which displays weapons and armours. Before enter the last room you can enjoy a great view from the walkway.
In each room there were some explicative sheets (Italian, English, German and French).
An odd thing was the staff. In the galleries there were 3-4 staff members who followed us from room to room to check on us. Yes, I know that the museum contains priceless works, but still I felt observed all the time. On the other hand, I managed to speak to some of them and I collected a few useful information regarding the paintings.
The visit took us about 2 hours. The fact that the path is sometimes interrupted, with passages towards the outside allowed me not to get tired too soon. I usually can’t stand long visits.
If you want to learn more about the art works, here you can find my post about the Castelvecchio museum highlights.
- Some exquisite paintings and sculptures
- Wonderful museum tour up and down the Castle
- Interesting weapons and armours room
- Beautiful sights overlooking the river and the bridge
- Only one toilet at the beginning of the path
- Only one explanatory sheet per language per room
- No museum café, little bookshop
- Tell right away if you are entitled to discounts
- The Museum is full of stairs and steps and is therefore only partially accessible to people with walking difficulties. There’s an elevator which allows to get only to the gallery of paintings (works from the XVI to the XVIII century)
- In some rooms there is a path for blind persons but there were not many panels
Corso Castelvecchio 2 – Verona
Full Price 6 €, Reduced 4,5 €
From October to May, the first Sunday of the month flat rate: € 1.00 (not in the case of exhibitions)
Monday 1.30 pm – 7.30 pm
Tuesday to Sunday 8.30 am to 7.30 pm
The Museum is closed on Monday morning, the morning of January 1st and December 25th