The Illustrated Castle
Roncolo Castle dominates the city of Bolzano from the top of a porphyry rock spur. Its construction was commissioned in 1237 by the two brothers Friedrich and Beral, Lords of Wangen.
Its glory, however, began in 1385, when the wealthy merchant brothers Niklaus and Franz Vintler bought and restored the manor giving it a new gothic look. They had the whole castle decorated with wonderful frescoes, unique testimony of the courtly world. These are one of the largest profane fresco cycles dating back to Mediaeval times. They illustrate authentic knight sagas, literature scenes, court ladies and life on the farm as well as hunting scenes.
In 1390 the Vintler family also had the “Summer House” built. Inside there are not only frescoes in green earth depicting the legend of “Tristan and Isolde” by Gottfried von Straßburg, but also one of the oldest representations on frescoes of the round table of King Arthur.
In the five rooms of the western palace, you can admire scenes of the daily life of nobles.
From the 15th century on, the castle continually kept changing hands and was repeatedly modified with frescoes and paintings being added. A gunpowder explosion in the southern part of the castle destroyed parts of it in 1520. In 1672, a lightning bolt caused a fire which destroyed the east part of the Castle. From the 18th century on, it was no longer inhabited and kept deteriorating, parts of the north wall collapsed damaging great parts of the frescoes. In 1883, Franz Joseph I of Austria received Roncolo Castle as donation from Archduke Johann Salvator of Austria, and donated it to the citizens of Bolzano in 1893. This invaluable jewel of the medieval time has been restored and today you can visit it and drink in its romantic atmosphere.
Furthermore, the castle serves as a backdrop for events such as the summer concerts in the courtyard or the open-air theatre performances. In the courtyard there’s also a castle tavern where you can enjoy local food.