Architecture

The Castle associates the characteristics of a castle with those of a Venetian palazzo.

The Castle associates the characteristics of a castle with those of a Venetian palazzo and in particular the casa-fondaco: residence and warehouse/trading depot.The layout of the castle at the centre of the three floors is in the shape of a T. The main body has a deep loggia, open at the front with five, big, slightly pointed arches, flanked by two towers; on the first floor there is a corresponding five-light Gothic window, a rare example outside Venice.

There are no documents allowing attribution of the design, but the obvious formal references to Venetian architecture (chimneys, capitals, trefoil windows and stone decorations) suggest Domenico da Venezia (‘engineer’ of the Venetian Republic who is documented from 1448 to 1453 with regard to the cathedral and Palazzo della Ragione in Vicenza).
It is now known as a Castle - possibly because of the Ghibelline crenellation or because it was built on the site of the medieval castrum - but in the first documents it is indicated as a palazzo. The term ‘villa’ is certainly appropriate in that it is the main element of a farming estate and also a prelude to Palladio’s villas. It dominates the grand ‘courtyard’ - boundary wall along the public road with large doorways shaped like crenellated towers - and was built with service buildings including a fattoria (residence of the gastaldo or steward), a colombara (dovecote), glasshouses and barchesse (colonnaded barns) with porticoes facing the courtyard.
There is no sign of any defensive action, but the aim of the exclusive space is clearly evident, with the courtyard playing the traditional agricultural role - a barnyard with domestic animals, once partly paved for threshing grain, sacking products, shelling legumes etc. - but also one of entertainment (the ‘noble courtyard’ in front of the facade), from which the various paths branch off to the gardens, both those at the rear and the ‘secret’ ones beside the lateral towers. Access is provided by subways to the plots of adjoining land that are part of the property but separated by public roads.

The facade

The facade

The Ghibelline crenellation

The Ghibelline crenellation

The doorway shaped like crenellated towers

The doorway shaped like crenellated towers

The loggia

The loggia

The stairs

The stairs

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