The Rocca Maggiore is the biggest one of the two castles in Assisi. It was built in 1367 by Cardinal Albornoz, who used the already existing, imperial residence of Federico Barbarossa as the foundation of the construction. It’s quite a climb, but the persistent will be rewarded with a breathtaking panorama of Assisi itself and the surrounding Umbrian landscape.
Rocca Maggiore Assisi
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address: Piazza delle Libertà Comunali – Assisi. Phone: +39 075812033. Opening hours: From 10:00 am to sunset. Closed: December 25th, January 1st. Entrance fee: 6 Euro; 8-18 years: 4 Euro; under 8: Free. (Note: Due to the Covid crisis, opening hours may differ from what is indicated here).
History and description
As early as the 12th century, a structure stood on the site where the Rocca Maggiore is located today. This structure in its turn had been built on top of ancient Etruscan ruins.
In the second half of the 14th century, Cardinal Albornoz had the fortress rebuilt, although the original project was left intact.
In those days the church had castles and watchtowers built everywhere. The intention was to convey a powerful impression and scare off possible attackers.
Later, the keep was reinforced. A twelve-sided tower was also erected on the north side.
Once the area was considered safe, the castle came to be considered superfluous and slowly fell into disrepair.
The fort has a trapezoid shape. The twelve-sided tower was built only later. It has recently been restored and the Rocca Maggiore is mainly used for exhibitions.
In smaller Italian towns, a castle or fortress at the top of a hill is often called Rocca (actually “rock”).
It used to be possible to walk from the Rocca Maggiore all the way to the Rocca Minore on the southwest side of the center, all the way through the city wall.