Castel Roncolo is located high above Bolzano in a graceful position in a pophyry rock at the entrance of Val Sarentino.
Image gallery: Castel Roncolo
In 1237 the former defensive castle was built by the Lords of Wangen. In these days the castle and its owners Friedrich and Beral von Wangen belonged to the diocese of Trento.
At the entrance of Val Sarentino there is a porphyry rock which once upon a time was called “runchenstayn”, after which the castle has been named. Due to the position of the castle it was possible to control and supervise the commercial relationships of Bolzano via Sarentino towards north.
The bishop Heinrich von Trient and Lord Meinrad II von Tirol in the second half of the 13th century disputed an intense quarrel. Due to the politically interesting position of Castel Roncolo, the castle complex has been integrated into this struggle. As a consequence it has been besieged in 1276/77 and the Wangen family never again got the castle back. It passed on as feud to several families. At the beginning of the 14th century Gottschalk Knoger lived in the castle and also changed it. Knoger was a confident of Meinard II and soon he was raised to a territorial magistrate.
In 1385 Franz and Niklaus Vintler purchased the castle. The prosperous merchants of Bolzano were friends of the Habsburgs and for this reason also held high offices. The castle used to emphasize their state and enabled them to draw near noble families. The Vintler brothers had the castle decorated with frescos in order to give their wealth expression. Today this fresco cycle is one of the best preserved of Mediaeval times.
Moreover the castle was equipped with toilets and a cistern for a cistern for water storage. Not only for this reason inhabitants of this castle enjoyed a certain luxury. Consequently a summer residence and further frescos and paintings in the inner courtyard were constructed under the guidance of Niklaus Vintler.
At the beginning of the 15th century, “Friedrlich with the empty pocket” started ruling Tyrol. To the disadvantage of Vintler. In 1413 Nikolaus Vintler died and the castle remained in the hand of his family. In the second half of the century, Castel Roncolo passed on into the hands of Siegmund der Münzreiche (rich in coin). From this point of time the owners of the castle kept changing who changed the castle complex repeatedly and also added paintings.
In 1520 a gunpowder explosion in the southern part of the tower caused disturbances. Parts of the castle were renewed and also the donjon was damaged. In 1672 the eastern part of the castle burned consequently to a lightning and has no longer been renewed. In the 18th century is left to its own devices and started deteriorating. In the 19th century Josef von Görres recognized the value ot the historical paintings and reported King Ludwig I. von Bayern about it. As a consequence architects and painters examined the paintings.
In 1868 parts of the northern wall collapsed and for this reason great parts of the frescos were destroyed. Further frescos were removed and mounted on the newly built north wall.
Archduke Johann Salvator purchased Castel Roncolo in 1881 and donated it two years later to the emperor King Franz Joseph who provided for the maintenance of the castle complex, lasting for four years.
Castel Roncolo unites Mediaeval components with restored elements from the 19th century, presenting an example for renovation methods of those times. In 1893 Castel Roncolo has been solemnly handed over to the city of Bolzano.
Today Castel Roncolo is a very romantic building boasting the largest preserved secular fresco cycle of Medieval times. It can be reached within a walk of half an hour and represents a perfect destination for a pleasant day of a holiday.