Audio File length: 2.32
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, my name’s Scott, and I’m your personal guide. Along with MyWoWo, I’d like to welcome you to one of the wonders of the world: the Castle of San Vigilio.

San Vigilio Hill, atop which the castle sits, is considered by many locals as one of the most charming spots in the city. The funicular that leads up to it, the steep, narrow road leading up to the hill, the winding bends that make their way down from the opposite side, the excellent restaurants and exclusive homes, and above all, the magical view to be enjoyed over Upper Bergamo all come together to create an effect that makes even the locals feel they’re on vacation here.

The Castle impresses visitors mostly thanks to the view and some particular details. It dominates the surrounding area, and was built in the Middle Ages over an earlier fortress. Improvements were made to it several times over the years to adapt to developments in siege weapons. The basic structure dates to 1335, to the time of the Viscontis.

Later works included the four towers, the boundary wall and the moat. Inside you can see two levels of artillery emplacements, and if you look carefully, above the hole in the wall for the cannon, you’ll notice the opening that was used to take aim. The defense system was completed by the moat dug out around the castle.

How could such a well defended castle be attacked? The most effective way to destroy the fortifications was to tunnel under the walls and demolish them by detonating explosives loaded in the mine chamber. As a form of defense against this deadly, but invisible, menace, counter-mine tunnels were dug, in what was an authentic underground war. Just imagine those who were digging out these tunnels, holding their breath and with their ear glued to the tunnel, listening out for the enemy chipping away with their pickaxes!

Before I go, an interesting fact: as you know, every castle worthy of the name has a secret passageway, and this one is no exception. Legend has it that there was a tunnel linking it to the San Marco Fort, i.e. to the Venetian Walls, and the tunnel really exists, carved out of the rock and accessible from the Castagneta tower. It’s not a real secret passageway, but a counter-mine tunnel.

Thanks to the spelunking group Le Nottole, who discovered it in the 1970s, you too can visit it!

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