Castle of the Tower and Church of St. Apollonia

Fortified castle and church

Mezzolombardo

Powerbase of the Mezzolombardo nobility and a splendid example of a fortified castle, it dates back to the time when the Piana Rotaliana was an important meeting point of cultures, and centre of power and art: it was here, in fact, that one of the Princes-Bishops of Trento had his residence. Formerly known as Castello di Mezo San Pietro, Castello della Torre gave the town of Mezzolombardo its name.

CASTLE OF THE TOWER

The location of the Castello della Torre is a highly significant one in the town's history: it is on a promontory between the old Piaz quarter and the rocky steps of Travaiòn. The current structure is the result of various reconstructions, enlargements and restorations over the centuries and therefore presents architectural elements from different periods: sixteenth century, Baroque and eighteenth century with subsequent additions. It is regarded as being the successor to the older Castello di Mezo S. Pietro, which is thought to have stood on the Toresela hill. The first historical reference to the castle goes back to 1541, when Prince-Bishop Cristoforo Madruzzo granted Sigmund Spaur feudal rights over the building known as “la torre” (the tower) situated on a hill called the “dosso di S. Apollonia”. The oldest part of the castle consists of the great tower dating from the early fifteenth century, which in the sixteenth century was incorporated into the baronial palace along with two other towers with a purely ornamental function. Alterations carried out by Sigmund Spaur and continued by his descendants after his death in 1544 modified the existing layout. An interesting fact worth recalling is that Giovanni Michele Spaur, Prince-Bishop of Trento from 1695 to 1725, was born within these walls in 1638. The Spaur family lived in the Castello della Torre until the mid-nineteenth century when the line of inheritance passed to Count Eugenio Welsperg.
He then sold it to a local bank, the Cassa di Risparmio di Trento e Rovereto. Finally, in 1940, it was bought by Rinaldo Tamanini. The castle complex, which is completely enclosed by a defensive wall, includes cultivation terraces; the little church of St. Apollonia; and two sets of residential buildings: a large rural dwelling in the lower courtyard and a noble residence with a corner tower; a tower house and the great tower in the upper courtyard. Today, a few canvases are all that remains of the vast collection of paintings the 64 rooms of these venerable buildings once housed.

CHURCH OF ST. APOLLONIA

The sixteenth century church of St. Apollonia has a gabled facade and a red limestone Renaissance portal with central rosettes. Above the portal is a rose window with stone tracery in the form of a Greek cross, which also appears on the apse wall. In the tympanum is an ogive window, while another four pointed arch windows illuminate the side chapels. The apse rests on the terrace below, occupied by the vineyard, and is illuminated by two large trilobate gothic windows. The nine stone ledges jutting out from the wall indicate where there used to be a gallery leading off the church. Inside are two Baroque multi-coloured stone altars, one in the apse and one in the northern side chapel. On the former, two statues of St. Apollonia and St. Frances of Assisi stand either side of a central crucifix, while on the other there is a statue of St. John of Nepomuk, patron saint of Bohemia. The latter altar was erected by the Spaur family in 1731, as revealed by two epigraphs at the base of the statue and the shield at the top. In the southern chapel there is a sixteenth century painting in a marble frame of a Madonna and Child with saints. Behind the main altar there is a trap-door leading to a crypt.

Highlights

Opening: private property, only open to visitors during special events