Borromeo Fortress in Angera

Borromeo Fortress in Angera, discovering castles in Varese

Borromeo Fortress in Angera, discovering castles in Varese

The Borromeo Fortress in Angera is the town's most  important landmark, standing on top of a rocky hill.

The view enjoyed from the Fortress spans a large part of the charming Lake Maggiore, with the hills and mountains as a backdrop to the banks teeming with picturesque villages.

Considering its location, it's easy to imagine its function in the past: the fortress was used as a defence post at the time of the Romans and Lombards. Although it retains nothing from that era, the oldest parts of the walls date back to the XIIth and XIIIth centuries.

The Borromeo Fortress is named after the family that owned the property from 1449, the year the Signoria of the Visconti fell from power.

The Fortress of Angera belongs to a select group of medieval fortified buildings that have remained fully intact. The structure has a square layout that supports the Main Tower or Castellana. The fortress has two wings:  the Visconti Wing and the Borromei Wing. Opposite the main tower is the Tower of Giovanni Visconti, on the south side of the fortress.

Inside the Visconti Wing Hall the beautiful Hall of Justice is adorned with a cycle of frescoes from the 12th century that represent the events of the life of Archbishop Ottone Visconti, considered an important piece of Lombard art painted by the anonymous "Master of Angera."

Today, the Borromeo Fortress houses the Doll Museum. The first of its kind in Italy and founded in 1988, over the years the collection has been enriched with sections devoted to children's toys and clothing. The collection of antique dolls unfolds in a display that spans from the 18th century to the present, one of the largest in Europe.

Both the historical itinerary and the well-documented educational facilities will take visitors into a fantastic journey to the past while rediscovering the joy of playing. They are more than mere trinkets, ancient and modern dolls are heavily influenced by the different ways education, customs, art, fashion and culture of the time.

The exhibition takes place through twelve halls of the Borromei wing and the oratory, displaying single-theme chambers: one located in the stables, dedicated to dolls and toys from all over the world. The other one, located in the first floor hosts the collection from the Petit Musée du Costume di Tours, gathered by Gisele Pesché, comprising an outstanding series of French and German automatons produced in the XIXth century.  

Its delicate Medieval Garden will serve as a backdrop. 

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