Castle Estense (Castello Estense)

The construction of Castle Estense in Ferrara, Italy was ordered by the Marquis Niccolò II d’Este in 1385 after a dangerous riot proved that the Marquis’ family was not safe in times of civil unrest, the architect employed was Bartolino da Novara.

Castello Estense at night, Ferrara, Italy

Castle Estense at night

Castle Estense and Moat, Ferrara Italy

The exterior that we see today was completed in the 1500 hundreds

Castello Estense from Piazza Castello, Ferrara, Italy

Here is a view of the castle from Piazza Castello.

Drawbridge of Castle Estense, Ferrara Italy

The castle can be accessed by three drawbridges.

Courtyard of Castle Estense, Ferrara, Italy

This is the courtyard of the castle. The two wells provided water in times of drought and the round stones at the far end of the courtyard were used as catapult ammunition.

Passage to Dungeons in Castle Estense, Ferrara, Italy

A passage in the dungeons that leads to prison cells.

Prison Cell Door in Castle Estense, Ferrara, Italy

Each cell was secured with three doors, note the small door for passing things in and out of the room.

Cell of don Giulio d'Este, Ferrara, Italy

The castle’s dungeons were not meant for ordinary prisoners but for high-ranking individuals who required strict supervision, such as don Giulio who conspired against the Duke in 1506 and was held in this cell for 53 years. He was released when he was 81 and energetically walked through the streets of Ferrara adorned in his clothing that was over half a century old.

Dungeon Prison in Ferrara, Italy

Here is the prison cell of Ugo, the son of the Marquis who had a love affair with his stepmother, they were both executed in 1425. In the left corner of the cell is the privy.

Dungeon Prison of Ugo in Ferrara, Italy

On the ceiling of Ugo’s cell you can see prisoners’ messages written with candle smoke.

We had a great time exploring this castle. Definitely take a tour of Castle Estense if you are in Ferrara. To see more photos of our trip to Ferrara select Italy from the category drop down at the top right of the page.

Travel Tip #6: Don’t get Locked in the Castle

Travel Tip #6: Advice from a Purple Hippo

It is important to be aware of closing times when visiting historic locations.

Exterior ruins of Huntly Castle situated in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

One can easily become enthralled to the point of distraction when visiting fascinating castles.

Arrow loop in Huntly Castle

While this is usualy a good thing, it can lead to disaster if one is not aware of the castle’s closing hour.

They are serious when they say closing time is at 5:30

When a castle closes they lock the two means of entrance and escape that the entire place has to offer.

This bright window may appear to be a way out, but the fall is much too long

You may see what appears to be an exit.

A glimmer of hope

But it never is, you will quickly learn that castles were built as defense structures, making exiting them quite difficult.

These iron bars were easy for me to slip through, but I could not leave my camera crew behind

Once you understand that there is no means of escape, you must phone the local police and inform them that you seem to have gotten yourself locked in the castle and could they please come let you out. When phoning the police it is also helpful to know the name of your prison, which is why Travel Tip #5 is so important.

Waiting, sheepishly

Once you have phoned the police, wait about an hour until they send someone to extract you.

Travel Tip #5: Remembering Where you Are and Were

Travel Tip #5: Advice from a Purple Hippo

After a while, all those castles and gardens are going to start looking the same.

By the time you get home you may have a great deal of trouble identifying where you were when you took a specific picture.

Huntly Castle situated in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

To minimize this unfortunate occurrence, try taking pictures of signs and markers when you arrive somewhere new. This way you will have an information starting point when you are going back over your photos.

Close-ups of the signs will help with readability

This travel tip can also help if you get lost or stranded somewhere, see Travel Tip #6.