Soriano nel Cimino | Castello Orsini


Valentina Berneschi


Via della Rocca


XIII Secolo

The castle of Soriano, a symbolic building of the town, was built by Pope Niccolò III Orsini between 1277 and 1280 next to the tower previously inhabited by the lords of Soriano Guastapane and Pandolfi, from whom Orso Orsini stole the fief.

Info: Municipality of Soriano nel Cimino, piazza Umberto I n. 12, tel. 0761742235, fax 0761742252,
ProLoco of Soriano nel CiminoPiazza Umberto, I
01038 – Soriano nel Cimino (VT) Tel / Fax 0761.746001 –
Agostino 334.7596098 Roberto 331.3651414 Fausto 340.3609305

Castle opening on Sunday and holidays:
Morning from 10:30 to 13:00
Afternoon from 15:00 to 18:00

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The castle of Soriano, a symbolic building of the town, was built by Pope Niccolò III Orsini between 1277 and 1280 next to the tower previously inhabited by the lords of Soriano Guastapane and Pandolfi, from whom Orso Orsini stole the fief. The possessions remained in the hands of the Orsini until the fourteenth century when they were acquired by Urban V. With Martino V the fortress passed to the Colonna, in 1434 to Francesco Sforza and shortly after to Giovanni Vitelleschi, who held it until 1440.
Subsequently Soriano was under the direct control of the Holy See, represented by the popes Eugene IV, Niccolò V, Callisto III, Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII. The governorship passed to the Borgias and for them to the Spaniard Didaco di Carvaial, killed by Count Nardini, feudal lord of Vignanello to allow the Vignanellesi to take possession of the fortress; however they were defeated by the inhabitants of Soriano, who bravely defended the castle. To celebrate the gesture of loyalty given to the papacy, Innocent VIII, with a bull of 12 December 1489, authorized the Sorianese to insert the word “fidelitas” on the city coat of arms.
With Alexander VI in 1492, the fortress returned to the Orsini family and in 1503 it was conquered by Cesare Borgia. Under the pontificate of Giulio II della Rovere it was sold to Giovanni Caraffa. Soriano was then owned by Cristoforo Madruzzo, who proved to be an excellent patron for the city. The Altemps ceded the marquisate to the Albani, then passed to the Chigi, who governed the territory until 1852, when they ceded the possessions to the Apostolic Chamber, which kept them until 1870. In this period the castle, abandoned by the nobility, was used as a prison , a function that it maintained until the end of the 1980s.


The castle, built in a dominant position with respect to the town, has the shape of a massive parallelepiped leaning against the oldest tower and connected to it in the northern part by a wall bounded by a cylindrical tower and to the south by a smaller arm. The entire structure is surrounded by a walkway with Guelph battlements and open battlements and defined by a wall, also surmounted by battlements. In the Renaissance period, several changes were made to the original medieval layout, while in the eighteenth century conservation and maintenance works were carried out.
A large, rather modern door leads to the entrance of the castle characterized by a staircase closed by a parapet that leads inside the fortress, where corridors introduce the visitor into a courtyard from which, on one side, the tower and the building are accessed. of the fortress and on the other, through an ashlar portal, to the perimeter delimited by the walls where an entrance arch opens. Set in the external walls of the fortress, there are numerous coats of arms executed in white marble, referable to the noble families who own the historic residence. A statue depicting the Virgin and Child is placed on the external side of the castle, to protect the fortress and Soriano.
Continuing the visit, at the end of the staircase of the courtyard, the tower rises, on which you can see two tombstones and a rusticated portal surmounted by a coat of arms dedicated to Carlo Albani. Entering the fortress, crossing a covered walkway, you reach the courtyard closed on the left by round arches, supported by columns protruding from the wall. The first arch encloses a small atrium covered by a painted cross vault, which precedes one of the most beautiful rooms of the castle, characterized by a central pillar and covered by four cross vaults.
From the courtyard, a seventeenth-century staircase leads to the upper part of the castle, which was transformed into a noble floor at the behest of the Albani. A large room, closed by an iron gate, precedes a chapel that preserves a sixteenth-century altar in peperino, with bas-relief ornaments, coming from the church of SS. Trinità del Cimino; the canteen is surmounted by an architraved architectural façade, crossed on the sides by pilasters, enclosing a rectangular space, in which there is a statue of the Virgin and a lunette surmounted by rosettes.
Another small courtyard was used for the hour of air granted to the prisoners. Large halls also open on the upper floors characterized by frescoes, where the words “Dura lex, sed lex” still allude to the prison use of the fortress. One room has a fireplace surmounted by the painting of the Albani coat of arms. A small room with a marble altar preserves a painting depicting a Madonna with Child and a frescoed ceiling. Between one room and another, some used for exhibitions, there are long corridors. In some environments the prison structure is more evident. The view that opens up to the visitor’s view from the outside of the castle is splendid. Also worth mentioning is the section of the fortress characterized by the tower at the entrance, on which develops a gallery closed by iron gratings, which leads to the maximum security cells, consisting of small rooms with no light.


D’ARCANGELI V., Monumenti archeologici e artistici del territorio di Soriano nel Cimino e delle zone limitrofe, Soriano nel Cimino (Vt) 1967.
D’ARCANGELI V., Soriano nel Cimino nella storia e nell’arte, Viterbo 1981.
DAVID D., Soriano nel Cimino nella storia e nella leggenda, Soriano nel Cimino (Vt) 1947.
GIGLIOTTI S., Soriano nel Cimino, in “Tesori. Storia e leggende d’Italia”, anno 2, n. 6 (2005).
SANTOCCHI N., Un borgo arroccato attorno al castello, in “Faul” anno II 1990 n. 7, pp.26-31.
Soriano e la zona cimina: anno 1953-54, Guida turistico-commerciale, Soriano nel Cimino (Vt) 1953.
Soriano nel Cimino, a cura di Carivit S.p.a., autori D’ARCANGELI V., SANTOCCHI A., Viterbo 1993.
Soriano Turistica, a cura dell’Associazione “Pro-Soriano”, Soriano nel Cimino (Vt) 1970.
TARSETTI BARZELLOTTI M. A., Soriano nel Cimino, Bolsena (Vt) 1991.