This defensive castle in Ferrara was built in the 14th century by the noble Italian d’Este family. The castle is also called Castello Estense or Castello di San Michele. From 1597, after the heirless death of the last member of the family, Alfonso II, the fortress passed to the papal legates.
Prior to 1385, the wealthy d’Este family resided in today’s Palazzo Municipale in downtown of Ferrara. However, due to attacks by the tax-laden people of Ferrara, the family commissioned the construction of a defensive castle to protect them from future assaults. Castello Estense was built in only 16 months. In its original form with towers and a moat, it provided excellent protection for the aristocracy of Ferrara. However, as the city grew, the city walls were rebuilt and the castle’s interior was renovated into more comfortable living quarters, the castle lost its defensive function.
Despite appearances, it’s not that often these days to find castles with a viable moat still looking like a fortress. Castello Estense is certainly an excellent example of such a citadel. And even on a sunny day the architecture of this castle in Ferrara gives a somewhat dark impression.