The Odescalchi castle on the shores of Lake Bracciano
Il Castello Orsini-Odescalchi di Bracciano it is a structure that could be defined as a palimpsest of history and architecture, a sort of living organism referring to its many transformations, adaptations, restorations and expansions. In short, four main customer campaigns can be traced.
First, the construction of the Rocca Vecchia that is the fulcrum late medieval of the castle built by prefects of Vico, who administered a good part of the Tuscia between Rome and Viterbo, around the 1200.
Second, after the transition from Vico to Orsini we witness the expansion and total transformation of the castle desired by Napoleon and his son Gentil Virginio Orsini tra il 1470 e 1496. This is the moment when probably first Giovannino de Dolci –the architect of the Sistine Chapel-, then Francesco di Giorgio Martini e Antoniazzo Romano and maybe Andrea Bregno e Giovanni Dalmata respectively they build, fortify and decorate the building. It is at this moment that the most monumental palaces of the early Renaissance are built (the Ducal Palace of Urbino, Palazzo Medici in Florence, the Castelnuovo of Naples, Palazzo Venezia in Rome), buildings and patrons that the Orsini know and desire in some emulate way. Almost at the same time, the Orsini family restored and built buildings in Rome (Montegiordano and Campo de Fiori), Tagliacozzo, Vicovaro, Avezzano, Scurcola Marsicana etc., but Bracciano seems to become more and more the symbol of a growing military power. The third phase of commission concerns the transformation from fortress to noble palace desired by Paolo Giordano Orsini at the moment when Bracciano becomes a duchy (1560) and the first duke spouse Isabella de Medici (1558).
With alternating phases, Paolo Giordano calls the architects to court Giacomo del Duca e Nanni di Baccio Bigio and the painters Taddeo and Federico Zuccari which, as witnessed by the Vasari they painted some of their most precious works in this castle. Finally, the crisis of baronial families in the Baroque period led the Orsini to sell the Castle to the Odescalchi family at the end of the seventeenth century during the papacy of Innocent XI.
Sold to Torlonia for a short time the manor was repurchased for jus redimendi again from the Odescalchi in the second half of the 800 thanks to a lucky marriage between Livio Odescalchi and the Polish princess Sofia Branicka. In the 1890 the refined prince Baldassarre Odescalchi made changes with his trusted architect Raffaele Ojetti. Together, the client and architect, in an ideal harmony, they restored the castle inspired by theories John Ruskin and as much as possible to the Renaissance.
Open to the public by the 1952 by the prince's will Livio IV Odescalchi, thanks to the current management of the Foundation dedicated to him, a wise and constant work of protection and restoration is sustained.
The history of the Odescalchi castle: one of the most beautiful Renaissance residences in Europe
The construction of the Odescalchi Castle di Bracciano, perhaps on a project by the architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini, start in 1470 commissioned by Napoleone Orsini and is completed in the 1485 under the guidance of his son Gentile Virginio.
Over the centuries the building undergoes profound changes and due to its strategic position it is often at the center of bitter disputes among the most important noble families of Rome, such as the Column and Borgia. Pope Alexander VI Borgia will even come to confiscate the Castle in the 1496. The first major pictorial interventions date back to these troubled years.
Famous is the cycle of paintings dedicated to women, which illustrates moments of court life related to the passing of time and the seasons, resorting to late-medieval canons. Of particular value is the fresco of the Triumph of Gentile Virginio Orsini di Antoniazzo Romano, illustrious painter of the fifteenth century.
Only with the end of the pontificate of the vindictive Borgia, the Orsini family finally regains possession of the dwelling, devoting itself constantly to its embellishment and enlargement.
At the end of the sixteenth century, the architect and sculptor Giacomo del Duca, a student of michelangelo, realizes a series of interventions on the occasion of the sumptuous marriage between Paolo Giordano Orsini ed Isabella de 'Medici.
Brothers Taddeo and Federico Zuccari, refined interpreters of late-Renaissance painting, realize for the occasion the frescoes with the horoscope of the couple and the emblems of the two illustrious families and decorate some rooms, including the one that housed in the 1481 Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere fleeing from the plague that had struck Rome.
In the 1696 the Orsini family replaces the Odescalchi family, an ancient family of Como origins, whose prestige grew further with the rise to the papal throne of one of its members under the name of Innocent XI (1676-1689). The nephew of the Pope, Livio, becomes Prince of the Holy Roman Empire under Emperor Leopold I of Habsburg, for the services rendered in the war against the Turks.
During the French occupation the Castle was looted of its precious furnishings and then sold with the right of redemption to the Roman family of the Torlonia; only in the 1848, Prince Livio III Odescalchi redeems him from the Duke Marino Torlonia. The son Baldassarre, a prominent figure of nineteenth-century Rome, recovers its ancient splendor through a skilful architectural recovery by the Roman architect and restorer Raffaello Ojetti.
Services: events location and weddings in Bracciano
Renaissance frame of excellence, the Castle has always been the ideal place for receptions and unforgettable events. The beauty of the scenery and the variety of environments allow you to celebrate wedding receptions, modern arrangements for meetings and conferences, private parties and gala dinners, intimate ceremonies or a big event for up to a thousand people.
Open to the public:
Open every day from Tuesday to Sunday, open all day from 10 to 18 with entrance from Via del Lago 1
In the month of August open every day. Open on the following holidays: 1 / 6 January - Easter and Easter Monday - 25 April, 1 May - 2 June - 15 August - 1 November - 8 / 26 December
On reservation it is possible to have guided tours in Italian or in language (English-French-Spanish-German-Russian). Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: optional 1-guided tours now included in the ticket price at the following times: morning: 10-11-12 afternoon: 15-16-17
full: € 8.50 - reduced: € 6,00
We accept payment by VISA, MAESTRO and MASTERCARD cards
The Castle offers different types of visits.
For individuals and groups
• Individual visit
• Guided tour
• Private visit
• Guided tour with Orsini-Medici wedding apartment and Secret Garden
• Private visit with aperitif
• Adventure visit
• Guided tour
• Herbal Laboratories
• Visit adventure
For children and families
• Animated visit
• Special visit
• Adventure visit
All visits can also be requested in language (English-French-Spanish-German-Russian)