The castle was the residence of the prince-bishops of Trento between the 13th century and the end of the 18th century, and gathers a series of buildings from different periods, enclosed within a walled area, in an elevated position.
The castle was built in the 13th century on the site of a Roman castrum (fort). At the beginning, it was named the Malconsey Castle, after the hill it was built on. In the 14th century, the name of the castle became Buonconsiglio (Good Advice).
The oldest part of the castle is represented by the 13th-century nucleus of Castelvecchio (rebuilt later, in 1440) and the large circular Tower of Augustus (Torre d’Augusto).
Between the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century, the structure was profoundly modified by the prince-bishops George of Liechtenstein and John IV Hinderbach.
In 1500, Cardinal Bernardo Clesio, engaged in a project of restructuring and urban redevelopment of the town, built Magno Palazzo, a Renaissance building to the south of the complex, the new residence of the bishops.
Near the end of the 17th century, the bishop Francesco Alberti Poia built Giunta Albertiana, a structure that allows direct communication between the medieval section of the castle and Magno Palazzo.
In 1796, Trento was invaded by Napoleonic troops, and Pietro Vigilio Thun, the last prince-bishop of the city, left the castle. With the secularization of the Episcopal Principality of Trento and its annexation to the county of Tyrol, the Buonconsiglio Castle was reduced to an Austrian military barracks.
In 1918, the Italian State became the owner of the castle, which passed to the Autonomous Province of Trento in 1974.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
In the southern part of the complex, there is the Eagle Tower (Torre d’Aquila). Inside the tower, we can find one of the greatest examples of Gothic art in Europe, the Cycle of the Months (Ciclo dei Mesi), painted by an unknown artist from Bohemia in the 15th century.
The cycle is divided into eleven different panels, as the month of March was lost during a fire. Each square, delimited by twisted columns, shows the representation of the life of the nobility, but also the agricultural and pastoral activities of the rural population, according to the alternation of the seasons.
In 1514, Bernardo Clesio became bishop of Trento, and comissioned the brothers Dosso Dossi and Battista Dossi, Marcello Fogolino and Gerolamo Romanino to fresco the Renaissance Magno Palazzo.
Magno Palazzo is accessed from Castelvecchio through a suspended bridge in Renaissance style. Next, you pass to an atrium that acts as an antechamber to a chapel, whose vault is decorated with terracotta figures by the Tuscan sculptor Zaccaria Zacchi.
The vault of the atrium was frescoed by the Dossi brothers. In the lunettes are represented the divinities of Olympus, while in the center, among the clouds, groups of cherubs drag the cardinal’s coat of arms.
The Dossi brothers were commissioned to fresco numerous other rooms, such as the Great Hall (Sala Grande), the Hall of Mirrors (Sala degli Specchi), the Black Camin Hall (Camera del Camin Nero), the refectory (Stua della Famea), and the library.
Gerolamo Romanino was entrusted with the decoration of various rooms, including the Loggia of the Courtyard of the Lions (Loggia del Cortile dei Leoni). Here, he created one of the most original and evocative pictorial cycles of the Renaissance, composed of a heterogeneous series of scenes with mythological and ancient Roman episodes, as well as biblical ones.
Other important frescoes inside the castle were painted by Marcello Fogolino, who was active for five years in the service of Cardinal Cles. His masterpiece is the vault of the circular room Camera terrena del Torrion da basso. The entire surface of the vault is covered with a refined white stucco with plant motifs, in which the frescoed ovals depict episodes of Julius Caesar’s life. Fourteen Roman emperors on horseback in evocative landscapes are depicted in the lunettes, and in the center of the vault we can find the imposing coat of arms of Bernardo Cles.
HOW TO GET THERE
Castello del Buonconsiglio is located about 850 meters away from the Trento railway station. The closest bus stop is Sanzio Castello, near the castle, on the bus Lines 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 17.