Rio Pusteria Close
This castle, locally known as Chiusa di Rio Pusteria (Mühlbacher Klause in German), lies north of the town of Rio di Pusteria (Mühlbach in German), south east of the Brenner Pass, in the South-Tyrol province in Italy.
This close was built by Sigmund, Duke of Tyrol, between 1458 and the 1480's. It replaced an older close, of which nothing remains, which had been built in the 13th century and which was situated about 600 meters west of the present close.
Both fortifications were built here to control the passage through the Pusteria valley which was the border between the counties of Gorizia and Tyrol. The valley road passed right through the new close. The Rio Pusteria Close was a multi-functional structure, which not only housed the customs, but was also used for residential purposes and acted as a defensive bulwark. The present valley road; the E66 highway, runs directly next to the southern walls of the castle.
Sigmund's close started from the bottom of the valley, which was narrow but quite flat, next to the shore of the Pusteria river, and climbs up the mountainside. The plan of the structure shows an irregular 4 sided close, with circular towers at the corners. From the northeastern tower a fortified wall climbs up the wooded crest of the mountain.
The inside of the fort is divided into two parts. In the middle, the road crossed the two gate towers, the Vintler Gate to the east and the Chapel Gate to the west. The castle, with a residential building of several storeys, is located on the side that goes down the valley.
In the 18th century an administration wing, once annexed to the residential building, was destroyed by a flood. Around 1871 the northeastern tower was partly destroyed.
The most recent wartime involvement of the close dates from the so-called French War at the beginning of the 19th century, when Napoleon's troops were faced by the Tyrolese militia. But there is even a 20th century ruined bunker some 30 meters west of the Chapel Gate.
This is a very nice and curious castle. It is something like a very elaborate gate. The castle can be visited during the summer months for a small fee. Too bad I came by during winter time.