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The first evidence of the Fortress dates back to the 9th century. 

For visits: Please contact the Tourist Office (Phone: +39 0541 624270).


The Fortress, as we see it today, was remodelled in 1447 by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, a well-educated military leader and architect.

The modifications included, significantly reducing the height of the existing tall tower, which was truly magnificent during that period, using the material to build three strong polygonal towers at the corners of the main building.

This resulted in greater reinforcement to resist and defend the Fortress from attacks by enemies using the newly developed firearms.

Evidence of the fortress can be found in archives located in Ravenna (Codice Bàvaro) stating that, at the end of the 9th century, there was a fortified building on top of Mons Iovis (Jupiter hill).

Further evidence refers to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, Barbarossa, who, in 1164, stayed in Santarcangelo to grant two diplomas to monasteries in Ravenna, Sant’Apollinare and San Severo.

During the first half of the 13th century, the Fortress eventually fell under the reign of the Malatesta family.

During the turbulent years of the Middle Ages the fortress was conquered and reconquered: by Federico da Montefeltro, by Roberto Malatesta, son of Sigismondo Pandolfo, and subject to fire and sword by Cesare Borgia.

After Borgia’s downfall, the fortress passed to the Venetians who, in 1505, conceded it to the Holy See (Vatican).

During the following centuries, it was purchased by various noble families until it was eventually bought and handed down to the current owners, the Colonna di Paliano family.

According to local legend, the tragedy between Paolo and the beautiful Francesca, told by Dante in the famous 5th Canto of Inferno in his Divine Comedy, may have actually taken place here.