Castello Doria is a castle located on a rocky hill overlooking the seaside village of Portovenere, one of the great examples of military architecture of the Republic of Genoa.
An ancient fortress already existed in this place when, in 1139, the Republic of Genoa gained control of the village of Portovenere, with the help of the local lords of Vezzano. In 1161, the castle was rebuilt closer to the Church of San Pietro, and the new building was virtually annexed to the old fortified structure, including two identical watch towers.
In the 13th century, the castle was the center of the struggles between Genoa and Pisa for the conquest of the surrounding lands.
In the second half of the 15th century, Genoa decided to demolish the castle and rebuild it in a modern style, according to the architectural and military canons of the period. The rebuilding works continued in the 15th and 16th centuries, but the fortress took its current appearance only in the 17th century.
During the French domination of Napoleon Bonaparte, at the beginning of the 19th century, the castle was used as a prison, without altering its architectural forms.
Today, the ancient Genoese fortress has become property of the municipality of Portovenere and, after careful restoration works in the seventies, is home to art exhibitions and various other events.
The castle has a pentagonal shape from which, to the south, three bastions protrude, while a circular tower dominates the northern side. The access to the fortress was made through a drawbridge, no longer present today. The current access is through an impressive portal.
Inside the fortress, which is accessed via a vaulted corridor and a covered staircase, there is the Hypostyle Hall whose roofing vault is supported by pillars. Above the hall, is the home of the local castellan (Casa del Castellano) who, from the 16th to the 17th century, was also the Captain of the People (Capitano del Popolo).
HOW TO GET THERE
Castello Doria is located about 150 meters away from the Porta del Borgo (Gate of the Village) and Piazza Bastreri, the main square of Portovenere. To reach the castle, you must climb a bit.