The ancient part of Brescia, Roman Brixia so-called since the first century BC because of the rocky, hilly ground on which it is built , is bounded to the north-east by Cidneo Hill (245m). Brich was the Celtic word meaning rocky summit, high places. And the hill with its wonderful view over the whole city, has represented the most important element in the town's history from the time of the first settlements in the Bronze age up until the eve of the XX century.
The castle is called the "Falcon of Italy" because of its position on the summit of the hill, where it overlooks the city from above. It is one of the largest fortified complexes in Italy with 75,000 square metres enclosed within its surrounding walls.. The old Venetian-Visconti stronghold dominates the city and its well preserved buildings illustrate the evolution in military techniques that over time have rendered the defensive system impregnable and made it a perfect instrument to control the city for the various "dominators" who succeeded one another in Brescia.
Walking along the path that leads from the entrance up to the top of the hill , the visitor travels through history: from XVI century military buildings ( the time when Venetian domination began) to XIX century ones ( the period of Austrian occupation) and then back in time again to the innermost surrounding walls built by the Visconti in medieval times.
The Castle and hill together have always been an integral part of the city. Yet, nowadays, going 'up to the Castle' means not only visiting the massive fortifications of the stronghold but also strolling in the spacious gardens within the walls or along the shady roads leading to the top of Cidneo hill.
The natural characteristics of the site were used for defensive purposes right from the time of the first settlements but have over time changed their function. The slopes of the hill, which were barren originally and covered in stones to make it easier to sight the enemy, are quite different nowadays; since the end of the XIX century they have been completely changed: tree-lined avenues have been created and monuments and stelae put up; so that the Castle has taken on a public role that is both recreational and educational.
The Visconti Keep houses the Luigi Marzoli Arms Museum, one of the most important of its kind in Europe because of the wealth of XV and XVI arms and armour and XVII and XVIII guns in its collections. The exhibits, of great historical and artistic interest, are set out in various sections according to type and period. there are about six hundred items on display offering significant examples of both Milanese arms production and that of Brescia, which boasts a centuries-old tradition in the sector.
The Museum of the Risorgimento is housed in the Grande Miglio (corn store), and has many interesting objects on display: documents, pictures, period prints, and historic relics. It is laid out in two sections which are devoted to the most important figures and happenings of the period ranging from the revolutionary years at the end of the XVIII century to the late XIX century.
Download a map of the Castle in attachment below.