Malpaga Castle (Italy)

Lombardy     See list of castles in Italia

The Castle of Malpaga is certainly one of the most typical buildings of Lombardy, for the architectural interest, for the historical events that connect it and for the recalls of the ancient court life that evoke a great figure of the fifteenth century: the bergamasco leader Bartolomeo Colleoni.

Although not built, like other Italian and foreign castles, on the top of hills and steep rocks, the fortress, with its crenellated walls and the imposing tower that rises to dominate the plain, forms a great composition with the landscape and admirable beauty. The castle, perfectly integrated into an uncontaminated landscape, a jewel of creativity and hospitality, rises thanks to the work of a Ghibelline in the middle of the 14th century, certainly before the discovery of gunpowder.

After being sold to the City of Bergamo it is abandoned. With the appointment of Bartolomeo Colleoni (1395-1475) to Captain General of all the militia of the Republic of Venice, the Senate of the Serenissima on 24 June 1455 grants the great leader the right to choose as a residence a castle on the border in defense of the Republic from invasions coming from the Duchy of Milan.

On 29 April 1456 Bartolomeo Colleoni preferred instead to buy the Castello di Malpaga from the Municipality of Bergamo for 100 gold ducats. But the Castle, with the invention of gunpowder is no longer defensible.

Hence the great effort lavished by the Colleoni to make it defensible with a series of interventions such as the raising of the walls, the construction of housing for the troops and a second moat. The castle is surrounded with houses for its armies, stables and fortified gates, making the complex a highly inaccessible citadel, in the center of which the "beautiful palazzos", as the Sanudo says, is a destination for high-ranking and highly educated people.

In 1458 Colleoni established himself there, as in a real palace, with his wife Tisbe Martinengo. Here he holds court, hosting artists and receiving the Great of time. Famous visit of Christian I, King of Denmark (12 and 13 March 1474) on a pilgrimage to Rome with the Duke of Saxony and a escort of 200 horsemen. The Colleoni to invite him and have him as a guest at the castle meets him with a following of 500 knights.

In the castle are organized hunts, tournaments, games culminating in a gargantuan final banquet. Bartolomeo Colleoni sumptuously embellishes his castle using the collaboration of talented artists of the time, some come from Burgundy, others from neighboring territories.

Bartolomeo Colleoni had only female descendants: Ursina, Isotta, Caterina, Medea, Dorotina, Riccadonna, Cassandra, Polissena. After the death of Bartolomeo Colleoni, which took place on 2 November 1475, the castle of Malpaga passed to his nephews Estore, Giulio and Alessandro Martinengo-Colleoni, sons of Gerardo Martinengo and Ursina Colleoni.

Malpaga remained in possession of the Martinengo-Colleoni until 1880.
In that year it was bought by the Conti Roncalli. In 1924 it became property of the Crespi family. Today it is one of the most important land holdings and belongs to the Malpaga Spa. The Castle is still located in a splendid context of cultivated fields, woods, irrigation and farms not far from the Serio river, which together with the nearby Orobie Prealps form a large architectural naturalistic complex. value, certainly one of a kind.

Images of the castle

Useful infos

Latitude: 45.6167335
Longitude: 9.7565568
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Map of Malpaga Castle