Castle of Garlenda
Comune di Garlenda: via Roma 4 - Garlenda (SV)
Telefono: 0182 58 00 56
Il castello Il castello

Visit Garlenda listening to the Liguria Heritage audio-guides! Let yourselves be enchanted by the perfect state in which you find its castle, fresh from an important restoration that involved the exterior and the indoor rooms to be used for hosting events and a small territorial museum!

The origins

The castle of Garlenda, also known as the castle “of the Meridian” goes back to the 12th century.  What we see now, however, is the result of reconstruction during the 17th century that was made necessary following castle destruction during a revolt against the Della Lengueglia, the lineage that began the most prosperous period of this town.

Of the previous castle, in reality built as a hunting home and then furnished as a noble residence, nothing more remains than a few parts of the wall and a mutilated tower in the south/east. Tunnel mouths and the perimeter area are still visible.
Even though its position on flat land does not emphasise its strategic importance, in reality it is located at the beginning of the Lerrone Valley, precisely for controlling the entry road.

The structure is of an impressive size: on the main and recently restructured plaster façade it is possible to see the large rectangular windows and the entry door with the Costa coat of arms above it, the family that lived there until the Del Carretto family took over. 

Even though the current aspect of the castle goes back to the 16th-17th centuries, it is possible to admire the oldest part of the rear façade, characterised by a polygon tower that projects from the north corner and 4 small windows for a walkway that may have led to the prisons.
Garlenda is a rare case for Ligurian castles because you can admire a similar division of the internal spaces with a small family side chapel and a court. If you look at the front of the building you will see a lower structure that is positioned slightly back from the main façade.

A visit there is worthwhile, because you can still see the antique barrels and the ruts of the mills on the floor. Today owned by the Municipality of Garlenda, it hosts conventions, performances and exhibitions.

Differently from how you may imagine it, Garlenda castle is not in the raised position typical of buildings for the defence or control of a given territory. What is its structure like? Can you still see the differences between the current building and the primitive structure? Find out by listening to the audioguide 1!

Garlenda among archbishops and influential cities

It is difficult to see mentions of Garlenda and the Lerrone Valley before the early Middle Ages. The events that caused its name to be mentioned are tied to the fate of the main city of Savona, the city that most tried to create a personal dominion and to remove from its government every governing authority or feudal form of power. It was in the 12th century when Albenga, taking surrender to the Marquises of Clavesana badly, managed to remove them from their government and became independent, made strong by its position as a prosperous marine centre on the west and by the power given to it by being the episcopal seat.

In order to face the danger of excessive interference from Genoa in the collection of tithes from its territory in mid-century, an operation that the Archbishop of Genoa did not find easy, Albenga decided, with the blessing of Archbishop Siro, to transfer many of his rights to Anselmo dei Quadraginta.
Anselmo was the progenitor of the Della Lengueglia lineage and, being present in the territory, could control collection and exercise the correct pressure for obtaining the dues wherever problems arose.

The territory on which Anselmo dei Quadraginta exerted his authority extended to Garlenda, Bossoleto, Tenaigo, Orsorio, Marta, Casanova, Bosco, Maremo, Paravenna, Ligo, Andora, Lingueglietta, Sanremo, Bussana, Taggia, Montalto, Carpasio, Cipressa, Pompeiana and Terzorio and various other places, always located in the districts of Albenga or Imperia.

Garlenda’s story, or at least its beginning, are tightly connected with the Albenga project of extending its dominion in its territory, limiting the authority of the Marquises of Clavesana. Listen to the audioguide 2 to follow the step-by-step story of how this municipality came out of the shadows and occupied its own place in the history of our region.

Garlenda, a difficult autonomy

The authority Anselmo was honoured with marked the beginning of the fortune of his lineage. Considering the economic advantages deriving from it, and adding the personal prestige that followed this enfieffment by the Bishop of Albenga, which was certainly increased by the kinship with the Clavesana family, he was surely guaranteed to become a feudal lord.
Legitimateness arrived from lay authorities and then the ecclesiastic authorities. In 1182 the municipality of Genoa enfieffed Anselmo with the town of Lingueglietta, where he built his first residence. In the Bolla Aurea of Frederick I Barbarossa, confirmed in 1226 by Frederick II, Anselmo was recognised as a loyal subject of the Emperor and given the title of Count with jurisdiction on the comitat and the castle of Laigueglia, Castellaro, Garlenda and all the other properties that he had in the episcopate and in the diocese of Albenga, even if some academics still debate on the truth of these documents.

The power of the lineage grew during the 13th century, when in exchange for its loyalty it obtained recognition of the valleys of Lerone, Andora and Ginestro from Genoa.
With concession of Albenga citizenry to the Della Lengueglia family, Albenga thought it had neared the family to itself. In reality, however, during the disputes that took place in the middle of the 13th century with the Clavesana family for the property in the high ground between the Lerrone and Arroascia valleys, the Anselmo lineage was the only one to remain faithful to the old feudatory.

Garlenda was established only upon the death of Anselmo II and the division of the property between the children, and it fell under Bonifacio, who also owned Casanova and Lingueglietta. The politics of the lords of Garlenda were based mainly strong>on the approach to Genoa until the swearing of loyalty on 15th April 1385, obtaining recognition of all the territories that they had inherited from the Clavesana family. But dividing the family property among the various children weakened the economic power and authority of the Della Lengueglias, at this point too many to manage increasingly reduced parts of the fief. The result was bad government and denunciations by the population against the Republic of Genoa until 1543, the year in which Garlenda rebelled against its lords.

In spite of this, in 1564 there was still a representative of this lineage that held power in Garlenda. His name was Antoniotto, and he was a loyal ally of Genoa against the menace of the Duke of Savoy.
Upon his death the village and its castle passed to the Costa family, to which Antoniotto was related, with military occupation of the castle. This change was contrasted by other pretenders, among which the Della Lengueglia family. At the end of the controversy, which was brought to the attention of the imperial court of Prague, the fief was assigned to Violante Della Lengueglia in Costa, the sister of the deceased Antoniotto.
We are now towards the end of the 16th century; on 06th May 1599 the rights of Garlenda were acquired by the Costa family, who managed it until it passed by inheritance to the Del Carretto lineage.

The intervention

Until recently, this building was in poor condition due to a long period during which it was under-utilised. At the turn of this century, the cellars and ground floor, facades and roof were restored.

As part of the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of Por Fesr 2007-2013), the intention is to renovate the attic (which is in a very poor state), the main floor where safety systems need to be updated to meet current regulations (particularly as regards the wiring) and the medieval tower.

Planned improvements for the exterior include the restoration of the entrance to the castle and the parking areas, with plans to lay natural paving combined with cobblestones and install a suitable lighting system in order to improve access to the building and its appearance.

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