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Castello di Ahrensperg (Pulfero)

 Ahrensperg Castle is located in Bijarči/Biacis in the municipality of Podbonèsec/Pulfero in the province of Udine, Friûl/Friuli.

Latitude: 46.148072 (46° 8' 53.06'' N)

Longitude: 13.482175 (13° 28' 55.83'' E)

From a historical point of view, Ahrensperg Castle is of considerable interest. In a northerly direction, in visual contact with the fortress, is Antro Castle, whose historical events are partly related to that of Ahrensperg. Both of them controlled the ancient road artery from Forum Iulii up towards Noricum, and constituted a true fortification system, together with the nearby castles of Urusbergo and Zuccola (destroyed in the same year) and Gronumbergo, located on the other bank of the Natisone.


1149 The site is mentioned for the first time

1251 The castle is mentioned as existing from 1251 ('...quod castrum Ahrensperg debeat pertineri D. Patriarchae')

1274 A document records the conquest by Dittmar of Grifenvelse of the castle of Antro and the 'castrum novum apud Ahrensperg'. The attribute has led one to think of the existence of a second feudal fortress in the locality of Ahrensperg (third, if one also considers the one in Antro), which scholars have searched for in neighbouring localities, but the determination could also simply refer to an extensive renovation of the only castle known by that name

1296 A certain Camoretto renounced his residence in the castle in favour of the Patriarch, who enfeoffed it to Volrico di Ermanno

1306 The fortress was besieged by Count Henry II of Gorizia. The episode is part of the conflict between the Count of Gorizia and the Patriarch Ottobono de' Razzi, which began in 1305 with a series of hostile actions against the latter and ended with a truce stipulated on 27 April 1306

1326 November 9, in Udine - Morando di Porcia, acting as the Patriarch's vicar, appoints Federico Savorgnan and Francesco notary of Udine as his proxies to appear before Henry, King of Bohemia and Poland, to ask for the restitution of the castle of Ahrensperg (Biacis di Pulfero) and reparation for the damage suffered by the church of Aquileia at the hands of the committee of Gorizia

1327 June 20, in Udine - Patriarch Pagano Della Torre appoints Odorico, notary of Udine, as his and the church of Aquileia's procurator, to ask the procurators of Henry, King of Bohemia and Poland and guardian of the Count of Gorizia, to respect the pacts agreed upon, and to ask Countess Beatrice of Gorizia for the restitution of the castle of Ahrensperg

November 13, in Udine - Corrado de Ovenstain and Pietro de Liebenberg promise the Patriarch Pagano Della Torre to observe the pacts agreed upon between the Duke of Carinthia and the Count of Gorizia and the Patriarch and the Church of Aquileia; Pietro, upon receipt of the Patriarch's letters, promises to hand over the castle of Ahrensperg (Biacis di Pulfero) to Bernardo di Strassoldo

1364 The castle was demolished. In the same year, the neighbouring castles of Zuccola, Urusbergo and Antro were demolished. In the context of the disputes that pitted Patriarch Lodovico della Torre and his allies (including Francis of Carrara and Emperor and King Lodovico of Hungary) against Duke Rudolf of Austria, who in turn was allied with a number of Friulian families, including the Zuccola-Spilimbergo. The quadrangular tower, still visible today, survived destruction

1365 The Parliament of 3 April decreed, among other things, that destroyed castles should no longer be rebuilt, and this decision probably also affected Ahrensperg Castle. The castle was no longer rebuilt and the ashlars from the elevations were used as building material

1511 The Church of St. James and St. Anne was built on the castle site The castle area continued to be frequented even after the destruction, due to the fact that the Vicinia of Biacis and the Bank of Antro met at the church and the tower that survived the destruction was used as a prison

1567 The first description of the de facto situation of the remains is provided by Girolamo di Porcia who, in 1567, wrote: "below in the plain (with respect to Antro) are the remains of an ancient ruined castle, where there is still a piece of tower used by the Slaves in place of a prison" in reference to the penalties imposed by the Bank

1900 In the early 1900s, Michele Leicht described the ruins, which are also characterised by the presence of a donjon, as follows: "... this donjon consists of a pentagon with a rectilinear base measuring 21 metres, a five-metre corner chamfer, another six-metre front and two sides of 10 metres each. The present walls emerge slightly from the ground and measure one metre in thickness. In the middle of the front facing the mountain and on the outside, there still stands a square tower fourteen metres high on each side and without a door, made of one metre thick, square stone walls. In the courtyard of the keep, leaning against about half the length of the 10-metre wall, one can see the ruins of the walls of a square tower 4 metres by 5 metres high, no more than 3 metres above the ground, as well as the remains of another tower of the same size that barely emerges from the ground'.

1909 The tower was declared of important interest on the basis of Art. 5 of Law No. 364 of 20 June 1909.

1927 The tower visible at the top was restored in 1927, as can be read from an inscription on the tower itself. During the same period, work was carried out on the site by Italcementi

1974 The architects Nicoletti and Koenig described the situation in an inspection as follows: traces of walls to the north-east, tower to the north ruins of farm houses probably built on foundations and with remains of two towers'.

1978 Tito Miotti wrote: 'Going up the little road that leads from Biacis to the church, just before it there are the remains, covered by bushes, of a round tower'; he also mentioned 'another tower that was situated about twenty metres from the church towards the west and of which there is only a pile of rubble': 'Between this pile and the church are the remains of a building: the walls are not thick, about 40 cm, and the sides appear irregular. Although it was built with stones similar to those of the ancient fort, it could be a later work'; it mentions an almost square tower (3.10 x 3.40 m) with a thickness of 80 cm and a height of 8 m. Vertical slits in each side; an entrance is missing. "Parallel to the walls of the church runs a wall about 1 metre wide that wraps around the church in a semicircle and the sector flanking it as far as the main tower... rectilinear stretches of coeval masonry continue in an east-west direction, losing themselves in the woods...".

2003-2006 Archaeological investigations of the castle site began with three excavation campaigns: in August 2003, in winter 2005, in June-July 2006, in June-July 2009 and in June-July 2010.

Taken together, these interventions brought to light the following structures

- in the area in front of the church, two walls were identified in a SW-NE and E-W direction; the latter continues for 16 m along the southern side of the church

- enclosure walls were identified on the W (façade) side of the church

- other walls were highlighted along the N side of the church, and believed, like the previous ones, to be pertinent to the fortress. In particular, a wall running north-south is approximately 80 cm thick and is built using the 'sack' technique, i.e. with the outer and inner walls made of square stones arranged in regular rows, and the inner filling consisting of mortar, pebbles and smaller stones, a construction technique particularly in use in the late Middle Ages; the wall continues in a northerly direction for a total of 10 metres. At the northernmost point, at a stump, six rows of the inner face still remain in situ;

In addition, the excavations have uncovered architectural structures pertaining to a three-room building constructed with building material from the castle, at an unspecified date, and in use until at least the 19th century, of a similar workmanship to the rustic building visible in the elevation.

2007-2008 First consolidation operations of the emerging structures through the recomposition of the architectural volume of the rustic building in the elevation consisting of two overlapping rooms built with building material from the castle, at an unspecified date, and in use until at least the 19th century.

2008 By decree of the Regional Director dated 6 November 2008, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities declares Ahrensperg Castle to be of cultural interest pursuant to Legislative Decree No. 42 of 22/01/2004.

2009-2010 Archaeological investigations continue by the University of Udine - Department of History and Protection of Cultural Heritage, archaeological area.

The stratigraphic excavation of the area initially brought to light conspicuous portions of masonry that had collapsed in situ and pertained to a building body located to the N of the Church of Saints James and Anne, presumably articulated on several floors, of which the quadrangular basement level (9.00 x 10.00 m) was subsequently identified at a height of approximately 3.00 m below the current ground level.

Of the building, only the W boundary, oriented N-S, and the access threshold with four semicircular steps developed towards the E were partly visible. The excavation later revealed the S and E perimeters consisting of squared stone ashlars bonded with lime, arranged on a single face against the rock bank artificially excavated to create the basement floor. The last stages of the research concerned the uncovering of the N perimeter, which was heavily damaged, found at a much lower level than the other perimeters and set directly on the natural rock bench. Of this only the NE corner, consisting of imposing stone blocks 0.80-0.90 m thick, is very well preserved.

The material evidence that emerged during the 2009 and 2010 excavation campaigns, although still being studied, makes it possible, after an initial analysis, to recognise a chronological sequence that is fairly consistent with the historical information about Ahrensperg Castle. The finds in the layers before the collapse of the structures seem to be dated between the 13th and 14th century, i.e. in the years before the documented destruction in 1364. However, it was also possible to recognise a phase of frequentation after the collapse of the structures, as evidenced by the presence of late 16th-century pottery and the partial reuse of some of the collapsed wall fragments.

2010 The parish of San Silvestro papa di Antro, with the partial contribution of the FVG Region lr n. 60/1976, consolidates and reassembles the wall surrounding the castle church of SS. Giacomo ed Anna.

2012 The Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, with a provision of the Friuli VG Superintendence for Architectural and Landscape Heritage, authorises the restoration work on the castle complex, which pertains to three building bodies: the tower, the rustic annex and the covering system of the archaeological excavation that corresponds to the main body of the original castle system.



Cjistiel of Ahrensperg



Address: Piazzetta Santi Ermagora e Fortunato, 4/7

Postal code: 33033

City: Codroipo (UD) Friuli

Tel.: +39 0432904572

Fax: +39 0432904572