Majestic, panoramic, a witness of centuries of history: Castello Doria is one of the most striking features of Portovenere. It stands on a rocky plateau, featuring steep walls and mighty archways in local stone.
The Castle of Portovenere is a proper example of Genoese military architecture, even though it has undergone some structural modifications due to the progress of fortifications and firearms. When you first glance at Castello Doria, it looks like one solid piece. But it actually consists of 2 distinct parts positioned at different levels and enclosed in large Cyclopean walls.
Among the characteristic spaces are the large hall at the lower entrance, named “Sala Ipostila” after ancient temples that had a flat roof supported by columns; the “Casa del Castellano”, where the lord of the castle and people’s captain lived in the 1500s; and the northern part with angled bastions, loopholes and other features for conventional defense.
The exact date of construction of the first fortified building is still unknown. Historic documents mention it for the first time in 1139, when the Republic of Genoa took control of the hamlet of Porto Venere. The current castle was built on the remains of the more ancient structure in 1161.
In the XIII century, the castle was at the center of the battles between Genoa and Pisa. It ended up under Nicolò Fieschi’s large fief, to eventually return under the control of the Republic of Genoa in 1276. Major reconstruction works took place between the XV and XVII centuries, to modernize the castle according to the military and architectonic criteria of the time. At the beginning of the XIX century, during the French rule under Napoleon Bonaparte, the Castello Doria was used as a prison.
Today, this ancient fortress belongs to the Municipality of Portovenere. It underwent a series of accurate restoration works in the 1970s. Apart from welcoming hundreds of visitors for some historic sightseeing and panoramic views of the Bay of Poets, it is also a venue that hosts cultural events, art exhibitions and weddings.