Castle of Rocca Calascio: Highest Fortress in Italy

Built in the 10th century, aside from being one of the oldest standing castles, the Castle of Rocca Calascio is the highest mountaintop castle in Italy. The castle stands nearly 1,500 meters above sea level making it a truly unique medieval castle.

Castle of Rocca Calascio during winter

The Castle of Rocca Calascio is located in the Abruzzo region of Italy. While there are conflicting dates relating to its original construction, many agree that the castle was present in the early 10th century. However, the first mention of the castle is by a source from the 12th century.

Castle of Rocca Calascio and rising moon
Ugo Di Giammarco

While this mountaintop structure is a rocca which means a fortress, as time passed many began to refer to it as a castle. The castle was originally a watchtower built in order to clearly see the threats to the village. Moreover, it was also a communication tower with the other towers in the region.

the castle during the winter

In addition, the Castle of Rocca Calascio was not the first structure on this mountaintop either. Sources say that the castle was built from the ruins of a Roman castle at the site. This means that the mountain was a common choice for defensive purposes according to the Romans as well.

Castle of Rocca Calascio in fog

A bird’s eye view photo of the Castle of Rocca Calascio during the winter. Since it is on a mountaintop, heavy snow covers the castle most of the year.

Castle of Rocca Calascio from above

As a defensive fort first and foremost, the castle blends in with the nature around it. Only white marble was used in its construction therefore the castle looks like it was carved from rocks on the mountain. The castle has only one entrance, a wooden bridge, which was retractable to stop enemies.

the castle and the rocks

In the early 18th century, the castle was badly damaged by an earthquake that left it more or less dysfunctional. Soon, the castle fell into despair and got worse until recent times. In 1985, renovations began to give the castle back at least a piece of its former glory.

the castle and the mountains behind

This effort partially worked and today the castle is open to visits and is one of the most popular attractions in the region. Moreover, movies like Lady Hawke, The Name of the Rose, and The American used the castle as a movie set too.

Castle of Rocca Calascio interior
Le bellezze nascoste d’Italia