Graines Castle, Aosta Valley

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  11. Graines Castle, Aosta Valley

The Castle of Graines is a castle in Brusson, Aosta Valley.

The castle is located at the top of a rocky spur that overlooks the majority of the Val d’Ayas and the town of Brusson. It used to connect with the adjacent Bonot Tower and the Villa Castle in Challand-Saint-Victor via flag or mirror communications during the Middle Ages. A vast treasure is rumored to be hidden beneath the castle.

Since Burgundian King Sigismund of Burgundy gave the fief of Graines to the newly founded Abbey of St. Maurice in 515, records of the fief have been kept. The Romanesque chapel that is still present inside the castle was likely constructed by its monks during the eleventh century. A devoted vassal of the House of Savoy named Godefroi of Challant purchased the fief from the abbey in 1263. His descendants owned the castle until the 18th century. In her fight for the family’s inheritance, Catherine of Challant used the castle as a stronghold. The Passerin d’Entrèves family purchased the castle after the Challant line vanished in the 19th century, and they eventually sold it to the commune of Brusson. Early in the 20th century, Alfredo d’Andrade and Giuseppe Giacosa renovated the castle.

Early medieval castles in the Aosta Valley featured a plan similar to this one. The only two constructions that are still standing today are the enormous donjon (square tower) and a modest chapel. It had an uneven line of walls measuring around 80 x 50 m. The donjon has a side length of more than 5.5 meters and is square in shape. It served as both the castle’s keep and the lord’s home. Only a ladder that could be removed during sieges could be used to access the entrance, which was around five meters above the ground. Later, the tower was expanded by including a wing.

The eight-meter-long single nave of the Romanesque chapel, which is devoted to St. Martin, ends in a semicircular apse. The ceiling has collapsed.

Featured image: wikimedia

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