The Castle is located in Piazza Malatesta and is one of the city's most important monuments. Unfortunately, what remains today is but a fraction of what was once a majestic fortified palace commissioned and designed by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta as a manifestation of his power and prestige.
The palace was located in an area that was strategically important to the city's defense - the walls surrounding the Roman city passed here.
The fortified residence of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, Rimini's ruler from 1432 to 1468, combined a celebration of his prowess with defensive needs. Its sheer size and the demolition of the buildings between the castle and the civic square accentuated its dominion over the city's religious and political powers.
The imposing fortress had massive towers and an outer wall with escarpments and a broad moat, and the keep was finished in white plasterwork so as to stand out against the red of the gatehouse. The defensive system, for which Filippo Brunelleschi acted as a consultant, also featured cannons.
As was confirmed during restoration, the castle incorporated the remains of the Roman walls and towers, the mediaeval Gattolo Gate and several Malatesta houses. Sigismondo, as seen from the inscription over the main gate, claimed instead that he had built the entire castle himself. Work started in 1437 and lasted some 15 years, even though the castle was lived in from 1446 onwards.
Today only the original nucleus of the castle shown in medals of Sigismondo and in Piero della Francesca's fresco in the Malatesta Temple remains. The main gate is still however surmounted by the Malatesta arms, showing an elephant and a rose against a chequered background.
After passing into the hands of the Papal State, from the 17th century onwards the castle was altered several times. The outer walls were demolished, the moat was filled in and the furnishings were removed. It was used as a prison from the 19th century until 1967, but in the 1970's work started on a complex restoration project prepared by Carla Tomasini Pietramellara.
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