Let’s discover the most beautiful Aosta Valley castles amidst fairytale scenarios, history and nature
The Aosta Valley is dotted with dozens and dozens of castles and ancient noble residences (they even seem to be more than 130!).
Many date back to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, up to the most recent dating back to the early 1900s, built with a defence function, perched on top of bursting reliefs or rolling hills.
Visiting a castle in the Aosta Valley is an essential part of a tour to discover and get to know this region with breathtaking views. Many Aosta Valley castles can also be visited internally. Some castles in the Aosta Valley also host exhibitions and events that take on an extra charm in these historic environments.
Below, you will find a list of the most beautiful Aosta Valley castles 👇
Savoy Castle in Gressoney-Saint-Jean
Some castles in the Aosta Valley are built in strategic positions to be able to defend the surrounding villages, while others stand in beautiful places with breathtaking views.
The latter is the case of Savoy Castle in the belvedere at the foot of Mount Colle della Ranzola, from which you can enjoy the immense view over the valley up to the glaciers. This castle in the Aosta Valley was the summer residence of Queen Margherita of Savoy.
The Aosta Valley castle has got all the original furnishings and, in order to preserve the original flooring, visitors must wear shoe covers.
The structure, designed by architect Emilio Stramucci with decorations by Carlo Cussetti and carvings on the coffered ceiling and wooden furniture by Michele Dellera, has got a medieval style and unfolds over three floors, plus the basement.
It is possible to visit the ground floor and the first floor: the ground floor houses an altar used for religious ceremonies, the dining room with a majestically decorated fireplace and a semicircular veranda offering a breathtaking view over the valley. Finally we arrive at the hobby room where an original billiard table is kept.
To access the second floor, called the noble floor, an atrium leads to an imposing spiral staircase in carved wood with decorations of griffins and eagles.
A travel tip: don’t rush up the stairs! In the atrium, look at the ceiling. Here you will find an inscription: “Hic manebimus optime” which means “Here we will be fine”. It is a phrase taken from the book History of Rome by Titus Livius, who attributes it to a centurion at the time of the Sack of Rome and which symbolises wanting to remain in the city.
The noble floor houses the rooms where the spiritual father, who always followed the family in their movements, King Umberto I, his successor Umberto II (the last king of Italy) and Queen Margherita stayed, plus a small boudoir.
It is interesting to stop and look at the photographs of the royal family in the rooms and the furnishings, which express the queen’s taste.
The Fort Bard has only been open to visitors since 2006 and it is perhaps the most modern castle in the Aosta Valley with services such as bar, restaurant, conference rooms and even a hotel. Thanks to this it can host large events, ancient and modern art exhibitions and photographic exhibitions. In the outdoor courtyard, concerts and theatrical performances are often held in summer.
Bard Castle permanently hosts three museums that can be visited:
- The museum of the Alps
- The Children’s Alps Museum
- The Prisons
This castle in the Aosta Valley, with the full name Royal Castle of Sarre, was owned by King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy and it was the favourite site for the sovereign’s expeditions to the territories that are now part of the Gran Paradiso National Park. Later it was used as a holiday home. There are many works, hunting trophies and paintings that enrich the rooms.
The Gallery, the Hall and the decoration, with the main events that characterised the Savoy dynasty in the twentieth century, make the visit to this royal residence very fascinating.
Magnificent castles await you in the Aosta Valley and Saint-Pierre Castle is among the most beautiful castles in the region. With the particular shape of ancient Aosta Valley castles, it has been renovated, further encouraging the fairy-tale imagery it recalls.
The castle, owned by the De Sancto Petro family from which it takes its name, is perched above the town and it has got the central residential nucleus, the walls and the tower.
Today Saint-Pierre Castle houses the Regional Natural Sciences Museum of the Aosta Valley.
Sarriod de La Tour Castle
This medieval manor rises on the opposite side of the village from Saint-Pierre Castle (also in the municipality of Saint Pierre) on a plain overlooking the Dora Baltea river.
The castle is actually a set of buildings from different periods, owned by the Sarriod de La Tour family and gathered by a wall. There you can admire the typical medieval structure of the Aosta Valley castles: the donjon (or “dongione” in Italian) is the main element, a fortified tower that was probably used as a refuge in case of invasion.
I suggest that you visit the chapel with 13th-century frescoes and the “Room of the heads”, where you will be surprised by the original decorations carved into the wooden ceiling representing funny, unusual and not very modest faces.
The peculiarity of this castle in the Aosta Valley is that it does not rise to protect a village or on top of a rocky ledge. The structure has got all the canons for having been used by the Challant-Fénis family as a representative office.
Fenis Castle has got a pentagonal plan, which has probably incorporated all the structures present in ancient times. It exhibits four circular turrets and a main square tower. Further turrets connect a double enclosure, resulting from subsequent interventions, which served above all to impress the population.
Fenis Castle is one of the most important Aosta Valley castles for tourists.
Fénis Castle – Flickr, Tart@ Photography
This castle in the Aosta Valley marks the last evolutionary stage in the transformation of medieval architecture.
It can be said that it is in the middle between the classic medieval castle (Fénis Castle) and the stiff and bare Castle (Verrès Castle). Here too, part of the work belongs to the Challant family and part to the Savoy family. Later the structure was used as a prison.
Thanks to the restorations, today it is possible to visit Ussel castle and a pedestrian path has been used to admire the Châtillon plain with all its historic buildings.
Verres Castle, as we have said, looks like a bare and quite suggestive imposing fortress. Its current form derives from a 14th century renovation by Ibleto Challant, a prominent nobleman who gave the castle a more modern, perhaps more military, square shape.
It is interesting to see how, structure after structure, the architecture of Aosta Valley castles has changed.
From Verres Castle, crossing the Dora Baltea river, style changes completely: we arrive, in fact, at the renowned Issogne Castle with a purely Renaissance style.
Initially owned by the bishop of Aosta, it subsequently passed into the hands of the Challant family, whose frescoes in the rooms tell the story.
The current horseshoe shape was created during a restoration at the behest of Giorgio di Challant. He unified the different structures to give life to a castle, which enjoy its greatest splendour in 1500 hosting illustrious guests. Subsequently, the decline began due to the disputed inheritance and the decline of the noble Challant family.
Only in 1872 the painter Vittorio Avondo stopped this decline by purchasing one of the most beautiful Aosta Valley castles, Issogne Castle, redecorating it with original furniture or antique reproduction furniture, trying not to distort the style acquired in ancient times.
The legend of a ghost hovers in Issogne Castle: she has the name Bianca Maria and is said to be walking in the moonlight holding the severed head in her hands asking to pray for her. She is supposed to be the first wife of Renato di Challant, who was punished for her repeated betrayals by beheading.
During the guided tour, you will be able to admire the splendid pomegranate fountain in the internal courtyard, with a profound significance for the Challant family, the lunettes of the portico representing scenes of daily life and the most important rooms in the castle.
It is one of the most modern castles, dating back to the early 1900s, built by Charles Maurice Gamba, husband of Count Christin d’Entrèves’ daughter.
Here you can find a modern and contemporary art exhibition with more than 150 works of art from a regional collection that brings together paintings, sculptures and photographic collections, from the nineteenth century to the present day.
We are talking about a very simple structure: a keep with a square base and a wall that surrounds it, dating back to the twelfth century with building extensions erected in the following centuries.
Today the castle is not owned by the region, like almost all the other castles in the Aosta Valley. It belongs to the Caracciolo di Brienza counts who, however, have given the part that can be visited to the municipality of Introd on loan.
Visits are managed by the Grand Paradis Fondation, which has thought of an interactive project that revolves around a document found in the castle: the papal bull authorising the marriage between Chaterine de Challand and Pierre Sarriod d’Introd (the original one is exhibited in the castle).
Virtual and sound elements retrace the history of this beautiful castle and its characters.
Changing style, Baraing Castle is purely neo-Gothic and stands on a cliff overlooking the village. It was commissioned by Dr. Pietro Annibale Baraing, a famous personality who lived in Pont-Saint-Martin in the late 1800s. In the past, the castle housed the Town Hall and now houses the headquarters of the Mont Rose Mountain Community.
Aymavilles castle stands in the centre of the village with the same name, perched on a moraine relief.
The central body is the oldest part of the building, while the four imposing cylindrical towers were added in the fourteenth century. The baroque interiors date back to the renovation taken by Baron Giuseppe Felice di Challant, who eliminated the defensive and military structures to enhance its beauty.
I advise that you check if it can be visited before getting in the car because the castle has been closed to the public for restoration in recent years.
In Saint Denis, there is a castle with a purely defensive function. It dominates the valley at a height of about 780 metres. This Aosta Valley castle is a simple and primitive building, with the classic central element of the square-plan keep.
The origin of this site is interesting: prehistoric and Romanesque remains have been discovered, as shown by the ruins of a small Romanesque chapel dedicated to San Maurizio.
The castle was built in the 17th century by the Vallaise family. Externally, the two quadrangular towers stand out and the internal subdivision consists of three majestically decorated floors.
The Hall of Honour is absolutely worth a visit because you will find represented ten locations, once belonging to the castle family.
In the garden, there is the chapel dedicated to St. Joseph, St. Anthony and the Virgin Mary, finely decorated in the Baroque style.
Not just Aosta castles…
In addition to satisfying the eyes, a tour in the towns and villages that host the Aosta Valley castles will also satisfy your desire for good food.
You cannot miss to taste local cheeses during a tour of the Aosta Valley castles. The region is in fact famous for its Fontina PDO: a cheese with a thin outer rind and an elastic and melting inside that gives off the intense flavour given by ageing.
With the Gastronomic tour in the Aosta Valley proposed by Italia Delight, you can visit the Fontina Museum in Valpelline: you will discover the maturing warehouses carved into the rock where Fontina cheese rests for a minimum of 80 days.
Another cheese that cannot be missing on your platter is the Valle d’Aosta Formadzo PDO, a semi-sweet cheese, if fresh, or a more decisive, slightly spicy and salty cheese, if aged. It can be found in many varieties (fat, semi-fat, lean and mixed cow-goat), as well as with aromatic herbs.
The location around Vallaise Castle, which we saw a little while ago, is famous for the Valle d’Aosta Lard D’Arnad PDO: a highly appreciated product obtained from the back of the pig cut, degreased and left to mature in ancient chestnut or oak containers (called “doils”) with salt, water, spices and herbs.
This processing method is so ancient that several doils have been found in the kitchens of Arnad Castle.
The lard is aged for at least three months and it acquires all the aroma and flavour that characterise it.
Every year in August the Valle d’Aosta Lard d’Arnad PDO festival (called “Féhta dou lar”) has been held for about 50 years. In a clearing with festively decorated wooden chalets, you can taste local foods and carry out activities such as guided tastings.
The climate can be very harsh in the Aosta Valley and, perhaps for this reason, the region has developed a good tradition for the production of liqueurs, often obtained with alpine herbs. The cold weather also favours the conservation of pomace, used to make excellent grappas.
If you want to visit a small distillery or learn more about other local specialities such as Saint Marcel ham, the food tour by Italia Delight is perfect for you: four days to discover Aosta Valley castles and local flavours. You are spoilt for choice because, in addition to these beautiful castles, Aosta Valley also means traditional foods that will satisfy every palate!
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