Castello Doria

Castle in La Spezia

Portovenere, Castello Doria
CC BY-SA 2.5 / Lorenzo Maffucci

Castello Doria stands as a commanding fortress, perched atop a rocky hill that gracefully oversees the coastal village of Portovenere. It stands as a resplendent exemplar of military architecture hailing from the Republic of Genoa.

Historical threads weave into the castle’s narrative, with its origins rooted in an ancient fortress that occupied the terrain. The Republic of Genoa gained control over Portovenere in 1139 with the support of local lords from Vezzano. A pivotal transition occurred in 1161, as the castle was reconstructed in closer proximity to the Church of San Pietro. The new structure harmoniously merged with the pre-existing fortified edifice, even encompassing two identical watchtowers.

Throughout the 13th century, the castle found itself entangled in the territorial strife between Genoa and Pisa, both vying for dominance over the surrounding lands.

The 15th century ushered in a transformative era for the castle. Genoa embarked on a journey to reconstruct the fortress, adhering to contemporary architectural and military principles. Although the rebuilding process spanned the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle’s final visage was unveiled in the 17th century. Even during Napoleon Bonaparte’s French rule in the early 19th century, the castle’s architectural integrity remained intact despite its function as a prison.

In the present day, this historic stronghold, which once stood as a symbol of Genoese might, belongs to the municipality of Portovenere. The meticulous restoration efforts carried out in the 1970s have breathed new life into the castle, rendering it a venue for art exhibitions and assorted events.

The castle’s architecture exudes a pentagonal geometry, accentuated by three bastions extending southward, while a circular tower majestically crowns the northern flank. A drawbridge once granted entry, now absent, replaced by an imposing gateway. Once inside, visitors traverse a vaulted corridor and a sheltered staircase, leading to the Hypostyle Hall. This grand chamber’s vaulted ceiling finds support in robust pillars. Above this hall, the domicile of the local castellan, who also served as the Captain of the People from the 16th to the 17th century, holds its place.

For those venturing to Castello Doria, a journey of approximately 150 meters separates the entrance from the Porta del Borgo (Gate of the Village) and Piazza Bastreri, the central square of Portovenere. While a short ascent is required, the reward awaits in the form of this resplendent piece of history.

The Castello Doria appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting La Spezia!

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Visiting Castello Doria


Daily 10:00 to 17:30



Address: Via dei Mulini, 19025 Porto Venere, SP, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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