Overlooking the pristine volcanic Bracciano Lake, the 15th century Castello Orsini-Odescalchi (also commonly known as Bracciano Castle) is one of the largest and best preserved castles in Italy as well an excellent example of Renaissance military fortress. The castle underwent many renovations since its earliest history that goes as far back as the 10th century when it was referenced to as one of the many defense towers.
The castle we see today was built between 1470 – 1485 by Napoleone Orsini and his son Gentile Virginio of the powerful Orsini family, thus enlarging the previous fortification. Their coat of arms and symbol, the bear (orso means bear in Italian) can still be seen throughout the interior of the castle.
The magnificent structure withstood repeated attacks by armies of members of the Borgia family. In 1696 the castle was sold to Livio Odescalchi, and inspite of centuries of tumultuous history, the Odescalchi family is still the owner of the castle and since 1952 it has been opened to the public as a historical museum by Prince Livio Odescalchi IV.
Currently, this enchanting castle also hosts high profile weddings (such as the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), cultural events, conferences, concerts, and exhibitions.
To visit the Bracciano Castle you have 2 options:
1. Self Tour (you can visit the castle on your own with purchased entry tickets)
2. Private Guided Tour. For a more insightful guided visit, Bracciano Castle offers private tours (also in English) with advance reservation. We highly recommend this option.
The price for the guided tour also includes the entry tickets for you and your travel companions. This is a great value as a personal guide provides in depth information about the castle, it’s history, and secrets that only a knowledgeable private tour guide can reveal.
For our clients who book our tours that include visits to the Bracciano Castle, we reserve the private tour guide on behalf of our clients and take care of the details.
For those who wish to self tour Bracciano Castle, here is a guideline to help you prepare for your visit.
Bracciano Castle Tickets and Entrance:
The ticket office is just next to the entrance gates.
Entry tickets are 8.50 Euros per person (*). You can ask the ticket office for a map to assist you on your exploration.
However, it’s also possible to easily make your way through the castle by just following the signs.
Tips on Visiting Bracciano Castle on your own:
The iron gate will automatically open to allow you to enter castle property.
Soon after you enter, you will veer right and pass through the majestic archway that will lead you along an avenue towards the large medieval wooden entrance doors located on the tower at the far end of the imposing castle wall.
As you approach the doors, don’t forget to turn around and catch a glimpse of the glorious view of the countryside behind you and the smaller building covered with ivy that served as a stable and granary.
Once you step through the imposing doors into the entrance hall, take a moment to look around a bit.
Next to the stairway to your right you will notice a stone pillar topped with a sculpture of a bear onto which a shield is resting. These are the symbols of the Orsini Family.
Near it, a great hall with arched stone ceiling that leads to a series of other rooms in the distance will surely transport you centuries back to distant times of feudal lords, fair ladies, and knights dressed in armor.
Along your journey through the castle, look for posted signs guiding you on your visit route.
The areas you cannot enter will be sealed off. It’s very easy to make your way through the castle following the arrows and signs.
Magnificent rooms fit for kings, lords, and popes
A visit through this magnificent castle will take you through 2 stories of rooms filled with stunning collections of original furniture, precious works of art, ancient weapons, books and decorations from the medieval and renaissance eras that defined this historic fortress when lords once ruled.
Exquisite decorations, richly colored fabrics and tapestries, elaborate ceilings, frescoes and friezes will give you a glimpse into the private quarters of lords, ladies, kings and popes who once lived or were guests within these elegant walls.
The large spacious rooms are lined up like train cars, and as you walk you will pass from room to room.
Posted on walls next to the doorways, are white sheets of paper with information about the room in various languages.
From here, walk through the open doorway next to the bed (follow the posted Visit sign), which will take you up a spiral stairway to the next floor. On this upper floor you will pass through many other fabulous rooms.
Rooms not to be missed inside the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle
All of the rooms you will walk through are phenomenal, but here are some of the rooms that you should pay special attention to.
Sala Papalina (The Papal Room) – This will be one of the first rooms you will enter, and it hosted Pope Sixtus IV in 1481 when he fled Rome to escape a plague. Look up and admire the finely decorated ceiling.
Sala Umberto (Umberto’s Room) – Italy’s King Umberto lived here in 1900. The opulent furnishings are original from the 16th century.
Sala dei Cesari (Room of the Caesars) – This large elegant room is noted for the busts of the Twelve Caesars.
Sala Orsini (Room of the Orsini) – In the memory of the Orsini family, a painting of the family coat of arms hangs on the wall.
Sala di Isabella (Isabella’s Room) – This room, while beautiful and luxurious, has a deeply macabre history, which you will read about on the sign posted on the wall.
Sala Gotica (Gothic Room) – While passing through this room, don’t miss the wooden throne and commode used by princes and popes.
Sala di Ercole (Hercules Room) – Look up and admire the beautiful frieze of frescoes depicting the Twelve Labors of Hercules. Also featured in this room is an assembly of cannons and guns along with 14th century weapons.
Sala delle Armi (Room of the Weapons) – In this room fit for warriors, you will find a fascinating collection of weaponry from 15th-17th centuries including spears, swords, halberds, and armor worn by knights and for equestrian tournaments.
Bracciano Castle’s Walkways, Courtyards, and Panoramas
As you exit the rooms into the arched loggia, your visit will continue through the castle courtyard where you will have the opportunity to enjoy some breathtaking vistas of Lake Bracciano from the fortress walkways that connect the 5 towers. Once patrolled by soldiers, these walkways were part of Bracciano Castle’s defense system…now, they provide visitors the opportunity to enjoy splendid views of the lake and countryside.
Below in the courtyard you will find the spacious Court of Honor, a square that holds an irregular triangular shape. While here, be sure to visit the large ancient kitchen equipped with 4 large fireplaces for cooking and antique copper pans hanging on the walls. It will make you dream of sumptuous feasts prepared here for extravagant Renaissance era receptions.
This marks the end of your tour through this enchanting castle as you walked in the footsteps of many of Italy’s most distinguished historical figures.
To exit, just follow the sign that will point you down the flight of stairs that will take you to the same entryway from where you arrived – you will see the Orsini bear sculpture at the base of the stairway as you descend.
Make your way out of the castle, and back back to the gates which will automatically open to let you exit the premises.
(*) Prices of tickets and tours are subject to change unexpected. Information is updated as quickly as obtained.
If you booked our Castles and Lakes Tour, Shore Excursion from Civitavecchia, Post Cruise tour, or Pre-Crusie Countryside Tour, please email us for more information on booking a private tour guide to visit the Bracciano Castle.
Everyone else may contact the Bracciano Castle ticket office directly for more information: http://www.odescalchi.it/