#121 Castello di San Giorgio
Mantua, Lombardy, Italy
This is NOT an official Lego site

Seldom has a castle captured my fancy like this one did more than 20 years ago. It originally came to my attention as I photocopied what seemed to be innumerable pictures of castles from any available books at several Big Ten University libraries that I visited whenever possible, spending many hours spending many dollars acquiring every castle picture I could find in the days before the World Wide Web. The book called it the Castello di Corti, a name that proved to be of no use when I looked for furtherinformation in the past few years. This castle has everything: towers, machiolations, drawbridges, a moat - what more could a castle lover want? I knew it was located in Mantua, so eventually I rediscovered San Giorgio, in its current form.
The castle was built at the end of the 14th century by Francesco I of Gonzaga, the fourth member of the Gonzaga family to rule Mantua (from 1328 to 1708). The castle was built as the mostly military part of the huge Palace of the Duke, built at the convergence of two of the four lakes that provide part of the protection for the city of Mantua. From the constant struggles between the Guelphs [pro-Pope] and Ghibellines [pro-Holy Roman Emperor], Mantua was taken by the Bonacolsi family in 1273. The last ruler, Rinaldo Bonacolsi, was overthrown on a sultry August evening in 1328 by the current Captain General of the People, Luigi Gonzaga. Gonzaga rebuilt Mantua's protective wall, adding 5 new gate fortresses [demolished about 100 years ago]. The Castle of Saint George was designed by the famed architect Bartolino da Novara. By 1433 Mantua was firmly under the wing of the Holy Roman Emperor, who smiled liberally on Gianfrancesco I, the fifth Gonzaga, and his heirs. The Ducal Palace and castle flourished, beautified by frescos by the famous Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna (see below).
In 1459 Pope Pius II launched a crusade against the Turks from Mantua, and in 1530 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V formally declared Federico II of Gonzaga the Duke of Mantova. In 1586 the poet Torquato Tasso wrote that Mantua was "a very beautiful city...worth travelling a thousand miles to see." The last of the direct-line Gonzagas was the weak and vicious Vincenzo II, who lasted just a year (1626-7) before being killed and replaced by a weak French branch of the family. The castle was quickly beseiged in 1630 in the War of Mantuan Succession. Sadly the imperial army of 36,000 mercenaries who beseiged the city brought the bubonic plague with them - thousands upon thousands died. The Habsburgs regained Mantua in 1708 when the Spanish king Fredinand Carlos IV died and Napoleon beseiged Mantua again in 1796 when he moved against the Habsburgs, but I cannot discover when the northwest tower and corner of the castle was destroyed and rebuilt so very plainly. At this writing [February 2008] I am trying to decide how to build my model...
The central courtyard
Frescos by Andrea Mantegna
Floor Plan by Sidney Toy Floor Plan from the Ducal
Palace website
The cutaway drawing which caught
my attention so many years ago!


Photos of the Lego Model
under construction in late February, 2008
The castle is out on it's moat on
February 22.
The splayed plinth is soon completed -
with basement windows all around
the perimeter
The infrastructure of the main floor
takes shape, as do the entrance
platforms and decorative white stone
The central courtyard (with the well)
appears as the basework is completed.
On February 25, the main floor exterior
is done, but the reason for this picture
is the courtyard arches, which my not
be seen this clearly again!
There was a considerable wait for a
few parts to complete the battlements
of the fourth tower here...finally the
model was finished in early April!


Photos of the Lego Model
To Be Built February-April, 2008
The view from the WNW shows
the gatehouse and drawbridge.
The ugly west tower is built
to match its companions.
The lake side (NNE) details the
postern tower. The cellar
may have sported cannon.
The view from the ESE shows
both the postern tower and a
residential protrusion.
Here's the south side with gentle-
men entering the ducal palace...
The gatehouse and tallest
donjon tower.
A typical tower battlement is
detailed here (you'll have noticed
I left off the roofs on 3 towers.)
Here's the square courtyard with
two levels of arches and the well.


Build Your Own
Lego Plan
West Elevation
South Elevation
East Elevation
West-East Cross Section

Other Castello di San Giorgio pages:

Return to the main castle page.

Castles created by Robert Carney
Page designed & maintained by
Robert Carney