THE PARK’S ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

One of the oldest and most interesting archaeological sites in the Euganean Hills is the Neolithic site that was recently the subject of investigation in Castelnuovo di Teolo.

The discovery of archaeological artefacts revealing the presence of palafitte settlements dating from the Bronze Age near Costa lake, a site of enormous ecological and environmental interest, is particularly interesting. These were permanent villages with a local economy that was mainly based on farming and animal husbandry. A panel explaining the nature of these artefacts has recently been put up at the site, and the artefacts themselves are on display at the Atestino National Museum in Este.

There are important archaeological excavation sites in Este (pre-Roman era) and Montegrotto Terme, where you can see Roman baths and other buildings in Via Neroniane. These are living, visible signs of the role Montegrotto Terme played during Roman times as a geothermal spa town, discovered thanks to the archaeological excavations that were carried out in the late 1700s and, more recently, in 1960. They are part of a wide network of geothermal spas dating from the second half of the first century b.c. which were not only used for therapeutic purposes, but also featured rooms designed for entertainment, rest and relaxation.

 

'Buso della Casara' - Valnogaredo

 

This is an ancient Roman aqueduct consisting of over 100 metres of tunnels carved in the rock so as to collect water from five different springs. It was connected to a conduit made of trachyte cylinders that supplied water to the Este area. Still intact, the site has been improved with the installation of information panels that explain how the system worked. The exterior is always open to the public.

 

 

The Archaeological Park on Rocca Hill, Monselice

This involves a historical, museological journey that takes in what remains of the Longobards and the permanent exhibition on the periods dominated by the Ezzelino and Da Carrara families. Restoration work on the old fortress at the top of the hill, dating from between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, has brought to light residential buildings, crenellated curtain walls and the apse of the old Pieve di St. Giustina church, demolished by Frederick II of Swabia in the first half of the thirteenth century in order to construct the tower we see today. Archaeological artefacts are on display inside the tower, featuring stoneware and ceramics, various metallic tools and silverware.

  

Ca' Marcello or Cini Castle, Monselice

Via del Santuario 11, Monselice

Monselice Castle is a complex made up of four main buildings. The oldest part is the Little Castle (castelletto) with Romanesque House (Casa Romanica) adjacent to it, built between the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Ezzelino’s Tower is a large building dating from the thirteenth century, connected to the other buildings via Palazzo Marcello, a renaissance palace of the fifteenth century. Upon inheriting the castle, Count Vittorio Cini embarked on a radical restoration of the entire complex of buildings in 1935, installing an enormous collection of weapons, tables, chairs, paintings, wall hangings, beds, ornaments and medieval and renaissance cooking utensils there. All this is surrounded by a magical environment, as if the ancient inhabitants of these places, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, were to magically reappear and inhabit them once more, reliving heroic exploits or the everyday affairs of their time. The ownership of the property passed to the regional government of Veneto in 1981 and it is run by Rocca di Monselice Srl.

General information: the castle’s official website

 

San Martino della Vaneza Castle

Via San Martino 23, Cervarese S. Croce

San Martino della Vaneza Castle was built along the ancient Bacchiglione river waterway as a military outpost on the border between the territories of Padua and Vicenza, instantly acquiring enormous importance both from a strategic and a mercantile point of view. The mighty tower is the oldest part of the complex and dates from the twelfth century. Spared the devastation wreaked by Ezzelino da Romano in 1324, it was the property of the Da Carrara family. Under the dominion of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, it was turned into a river port in 1405. In 1489 it became the property of the Vendramin family of Venice. Following further repairs and renovation, it was acquired by the counts of Papafava in 1930, descendants of the House of Da Carrara, and was split up into farmhouses where 13 families lived until quite recently. The castle is now the property of Padua’s provincial government and has been the site of the Bacchiglione river museum since 1995 where fascinating Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman archaeological artefacts are on display, including its renowned pirogues and precious medieval ceramics..

General information: the official website of Euganean Hills museums

 

Este Castle's curtain wall

Este Castle was built in 1050 by Azzo II who then adopted the name of Este for his entire family. In 1339, the House of Este moved to Ferrara, leaving the castle to the Da Carrara family of Padua, who took advantage of its strategic position in the city to defend itself from Scaliger and Visconti onslaughts. Only the curtain wall remains of the original building for a total perimeter of over one kilometre, featuring twelve towers separated by curtain walls with Guelph crenellations, as well as two imposing keeps: the Castelletto del Soccorso on the eastern side and one at the highest point which dominates the entire old town. Inside the wall’s perimeter, there is an Italian public garden decorated with eighteenth-century statues depicting mythological gods. The curtain wall also surrounds Mocenigo Palace (sixteenth century), now the site of the Atestino National Museum.

 

 

Valbona Castle

Via Castello 2, Lozzo Atestino

Valbona Castle, built to defend the counts of Lozzo, played a fundamental role during the wars that were fought between the Paduans, Scaligers, Este and Vicenza at that time. Destroyed twice (in 1231 and 1313), it was always rebuilt due to its strategic local importance. In 1318, the castle became the property of the Da Carrara family, as shown by the coat-of-arms on the entrance and later, in 1405, it passed to the Republic of Venice. Under Venetian rule, the castle lost its military and strategic role, though it was still used as a watchtower. The rectangular curtain wall, built in stone quarried from the Euganean Hills and broken up into bricks, features small pentagonal towers on each corner and square ones in the two longest curtain walls, while a keep in the middle dominates the entire castle.

General information: the website of Padua’s medieval tourism

 

The ruins of Mount Cecilia's fortress, Baone

Baone Castle guarded access to the city of Este from the east. On the other side, the castle on the summit of Mount Cero watched over the road between Este, Cinto and Lozzo, while the Calaone fortress protected the city from its central position.

The Baone family, which owned this rural fiefdom, was originally from Padua and in 1183 it handed over the ancient town of Baonis and the territory in its entirely to Obizzo, marquis of Este.

The history of Baone Castle is inextricably linked to the changing circumstances of Este Castle, the political centre from which the marquises exercised their authority.

Built in trachyte stone, it featured ramparts, one or more doors with lock and key and an imposing tower that was also used as the lord’s residence, in the centre of a ‘wide tract of land covered in vines’ on the edge of which there were ‘many places where the castle walls were very thick’.

Padua’s public library boats a manuscript written by an anonymous hand (probably Biasio Lombardo of Este) entitled Marbles, tombs, vases, statues, statuettes, eternal flames, lacrimaria and other antiquities of the Atestino area that can be dated to the second half of the seventeenth century, a text which is very useful when studying the history and archaeology of Baone. Scholars are particularly interested in the ruins of the medieval castle and the old church of St. Fidenzio where the description of the site reveals that in the mid-1600s it had been completed destroyed and that the area once surrounded by the curtain walls had been turned into a vineyard.

 

The ruins of Mount Cinto's fortress, Cinto Euganeo

Thanks to their distinctive cone shape and commanding position over the plains, the Euganean Hills were dotted with religious centres and military fortifications.

On the top of the hill, invisible from the plains and hidden by trees and undergrowth, are the ruins of an old fortress. The castle, which was small and oval, had curtain walls and a buttress on the southern side. Probably part of a network of fortifications and connected to a second castle where the church of Cinto Euganeo now stands, it had a strategic role in guarding access from the plains to the western side of the hills. It was already in existence in 1000 a.d., as shown by a document written by Gloria, the Paduan historian. Between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it was the property of the De Lendinara family. Occupied by Ezzelino da Romano, it came under the control of the town of Padua in 1275 and was guarded by a small garrison of seven soldiers paid by the inhabitants of the towns below: Cinto, Cornoleda, Valle San Giorgio and Rusta. In the fourteenth century, the Da Carrara family took possession of the fortresses of Cinto, Lozzo and Valbona in order to prevent the Scaligers from attacking along the entire south-western side of the hills. Under the rule of the Republic of Venice between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the castle lost its strategic purpose and was abandoned due to its isolated and inaccessible position.

During the Second World War, German soldiers built trenches in the area (partly visible just under the summit) and used the walls as an anti-aircraft post. The presence of a perfectly preserved old stone mortar in the centre of the oval walled area, perhaps used during the time of brigands to make gunpowder, is an unusual feature.

 

The ruins of Speronella Castle in Rocca Pendice, Teolo

The ruins of the fortress whose remains are still clearly visible near the summit of Rocca Pendice are of unknown origin. This castle kept its military role longer than any other. In around the mid-twelfth century, the bishop of Padua handed the building over to Emperor Frederick Barbarossa who, however, returned it to this same bishop just a few years later. Legend has it that Speronella Dalesmanini was imprisoned here, a woman adopted as a symbol of the town’s freedom. Later, ownership of the castle passed to the Da Carrara family, who used it as a prison, and then to the Venetians. It lost its military role and was converted by the Orologio family into a country retreat.