Fénis Castle, Aosta Valley

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Castello di Fénis (French: Château de Fénis) is a medieval castle located in the town of Fénis, Valle d’Aosta.


About 13 kilometers from the city of Aosta, the castle is situated in the Aosta Valley’s Fénis village. Towers are located at each corner of the pentagonal arrangement of the keep. It is encircled by a pair of battlemented border walls in addition to a string of watchtowers connected by a walkway. One of the most well-known castles in the Aosta Valley, it has become a popular destination for tourists due to its distinctive architecture, several turrets, and battlemented walls. It was constructed as the Challant family’s home rather than for military use.

A semicircular stone staircase and wooden balconies can be seen in the inner courtyard, which is located in the keep’s core. Saint George slaying the dragon is depicted in a 15th-century painting at the top of the staircase, and proverbs written in old French are painted on the walls of the balconies together with pictures of sages and prophets. A painter from the Jaquerio school is said to be the creator of the frescoes.

Inner Courtyard of Fénis Castle
Inner Courtyard of Fénis Castle (source)

The Viscounts of Aosta, the Challant family, are listed as the owners of the castle in a record from 1242 for the first time. It was probably just a basic keep enclosed by walls at the time. The castle was expanded to take on its current form between the years of 1320 and 1420 while Aymon of Challant and his son Boniface I of Challant were in charge.

The castle’s pentagonal design, the exterior boundary wall, and several of the towers were added under Aymon’s rule. The staircase and balconies in the inner courtyard and the prison were constructed during a second building campaign that Boniface of Challant started in 1392. Giacomo Jaquerio, a Piedmontese painter, was also hired by him to create frescoes for the chapel and the interior courtyard. The castle had its pinnacle of beauty under Boniface I: it was a wealthy court surrounded by a vineyard, a vegetable garden, and a garden where the lord and his visitors might unwind.

Fénis Castle (source)

The castle belonged to the Challant lords until Georges-François of Challant was forced to sell it to Count Baldassarre Castellar of Saluzzo Paesana in order to settle his debts. This marked the start of the fortress’s collapse. It was converted into a farmhouse, a stable, and a barn.

Alfredo d’Andrade, an architect, bought it in 1895 and launched a restoration effort to safeguard the harmed structures. The castle’s current appearance was achieved in 1935 thanks to a second campaign led by De Vecchi and Mesturino that finished the renovation. There was also antique wood furniture in the rooms.

The Autonomous Region Aosta Valley now owns the castle, and it has been converted into a museum.

Fénis castle (source)

Feature image: wikimedia


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