Castles and fortifications
Not many other areas of the Pre-Alps had so many castles and fortifications already in the Middle Ages as Friuli did. Owing to its geographical position, the Region had a strategic function already during the Roman period and this required the erection of suitable defensive structures. The same were subsequently used by the Lombards for the defence of the Duchy of Cividale. Other castles were built during the Saxon Empire in order to stop the terrible incursions of the Hungarians (899-952 d.C). The new castles were built and controlled by families of German origin, who will subsequently form the core of the Friulan feudality. Further fortifications were built during the period of the Patriarchs of Aquileia (1077-1420) and in the same period several communities, such as Venzone, Gemona, Udine, Cividale, Monfalcone, Trieste and Muggia built their own fortifications. During the Venetian domination no further fortification was built, except the Fortress of Palmanova.
Many elements of this defensive system are still in good state, whilst others are now ruins or have been incorporated into more recent buildings.
Placed in different locations, some on the top of steep hills, others on cliffs sheer above the sea, some inside towns or washed by spring-water courses and surrounded by centuries-old parks, the castles are extremely different one from the other as far as their styles are concerned, but each single one of them is worth a careful visit.
Many castles are still in private hands, others belong to the Government, the Region or the Communes. In some cases they are still private residences, whilst in others they are uninhabited and to end with, some have been transformed into restaurants, hotels or museums.
The Consortium for the Protection fo Historical Castles of Friuli-Venetia Giulia, an association established in 1968, that gathers together nearly all the castle owners of the Region, copes with the preservation of said monuments, promoting proper restoration works and exploitation activities.