The Castle of Udine is one of the main monuments of the city and is located on top of a hill in the historic center, at 138 m a.s.l. It is home to the civic museums, which include an art gallery, the Archaeological and Numismatic Museum, the Risorgimento Museum, the Gallery of Drawings and Prints and the Friulian Museum of Photography.
Castello di Udine History
The Castle of Udine, symbol of Friuli, formerly the seat of the patriarch of Aquileia and the Venetian Lieutenant of the Patria del Friuli, became a museum on July 26, 1906 on the occasion of the celebrations of the fortieth anniversary of the union of Friuli with Italy.
Today the Castle hosts two recent museum installations on the ground floor: the Museum of the Risorgimento and the Archaeological Museum, both the result of a careful museum selection accompanied by innovative multimedia supports. The path of the Ancient Art Gallery winds its way along the main floor with valuable works of art from the 14th to the 19th century, including paintings by Carpaccio, Caravaggio and Tiepolo. On the third floor it is possible to admire the Museum of Photography with nineteenth and twentieth century images of the major photographers operating in Friuli such as Pignat, Bujatti and Brisighelli.
There are also collections normally available by reservation: the Numismatic Collections, the Galleries of Drawings and Prints, the Collections of Sculpture and Gipsoteca.
Furthermore, at the Castle there are two important cultural services open to the public: the Art Library with over 45,000 volumes and about 350 periodicals and the Photo Library which preserves more than 180,000 images of photographs, negatives and original plates.
What can be seen today at the top of the hill is an imposing sixteenth-century building built after the terrible earthquake which on March 26, 1511 caused part of the previous artifacts to collapse. The need to proceed with the partial reconstruction of the Castle soon turned into a total renovation project entrusted to the architect Giovanni Fontana, of Lombard origin but living in Venice. The works continued briskly, with the employment of 500 workers. The foundation stone was laid on April 2, 1517.
The Castle factory, after this initial impetus, slowed down, especially due to the difficulty of finding funds, and the architect's original project was not completed. Other architects took over to direct the factory, among them Giovanni da Udine who in 1547 designed an external staircase that from the courtyard on the north side allowed access to the central hall. A third design phase took place with Francesco Floreani who in 1566 concluded some works inside the Hall of the Parliament.
At the end of that year the vast environment was completed thus constituting a point of reference for the most prestigious initiatives for the city and pictorial decoration began, a true anthology of Friulian painting in the mid-16th century. In 1576 an internal staircase was built to go up from the atrium to the Hall of Parliament which completes the new palace-castle in essential lines. Everything that would later take place did not substantially affect the original structure of the sixteenth-century building which ended in the early seventeenth century.