Military garrison and walled city of the navigable waterway
❝Created to control commercial traffic along the canals of the Euganean Riviera, the Carrarese Castle of Este is the cornerstone of the medieval walled city bearing the same name. Within its heavy defensive walls, which are about one kilometer long and equipped with twelve towers, there is an historical garden featuring ancient trees and stately buildings.
The walled city of Este stands on the banks of the Bisato Canal, an artificial canal built in 1139 to link the city of Vicenza with the Adriatic without having to sail on the Bacchiglione and pass by Padua. This “liquid road” was one of the most important communication routes of medieval times for the transport of people and goods in inland Veneto. The Carrarese Castle complex, built to control the ancient canal, is strategically located within the historical centre of the city. It consists of a keep built on the hill (where there is a tower of square design) that overlooks the city, a smaller castle to the northeastern side, and a heavy, one kilometer long wall with twelve small towers. Inside the perimeter of the walls, the green area of the historical garden stretches out, today a public park which hosts several specimens of rare, centuries-old trees.
The original military nucleus probably dates to the sixth century A.D. These old structures were subsequently encased within the castrum built by the marquises of Este between the twelfth and thirteenth century, and a fort with heavy defensive walls arose by the residential buildings. During this period, particularly when Azzo VI came to power, the castle became an important fulcrum of Troubadour culture, hosting numerous artists, jesters, poets and men of letters. The heated disputes between the local lordships nonetheless took its toll on the Este territory and stronghold, culminating in its destruction in 1249 by Ezzelino III da Romano.
Following this, the site was conquered by the Carraresi family of Padua who, in 1339, with Ubertino da Carrara, reconstructed the castle as it stands today. When Este was annexed to the Republic of Venice, the castle definitively lost its military function. It was acquired during the sixteenth century by the Venetian Mocenigo family, who proceeded to build a sumptuous palace in the southern section of the fortified complex. This building, initially composed of two symmetrical entities, (the eastern one today is missing, as destroyed by fire in the eighteenth century) today houses the National Atestino Museum, which contains a rich collection of Roman and pre-Roman archaeological finds from Este and its territory.
By train: the Castle is situated within Este historic centre and can quickly be reached from Este station, on the Mantova-Monselice railway line.
By car: exit the A13 Motorway (Bologna-Padova) at “Monselice” , proceed for a while along the SS16 road towards Rovigo and then join the SR10 road towards Este. Alternatively, Motorway A31 (Rovigo-Piovene Rocchette) exit at “S.Margherita d’Adige” and continue along the SP18 and SR10 roads towards Este.
Opening times for visitors:
Museo Nazionale Atestino
Where to eat: within Este historic centre we recommend the “Ristorante Le Strie” and the “Osteria Antico Sirone” (Via Alessi 1, Este; tel. 0429 601583), a short distance from the Bisato Canal.
Where to stay: very near the fortress we suggest the Hotel Beatrice d'Este and the Hotel Castello or, instead, the Agriturismo Barchessa Este, close to the noble Venetian building of Villa Contarini degli Scrigni.
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The historical dockings of the Burchiello, as depicted in Canaletto's renowned painting