Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Beautiful Twin Castles of Duino

Duino is a tiny town in the north-east of Italy. It is famous for its two castles built close to each other on the rocky cliffs along the Bay of Trieste - a new castle and the ruins of an old castle. It is an amazing place.

Duino is not very far from Miramare castle of Trieste, close to Italy's border with Slovenia and Austria. If you are visiting this part of Italy, do not miss a visit to these beautiful castles.

Brief History of the Duino Castles

The first castle of Duino was built in the 10th century while the second castle was built in 14th century. The second castle was built on a nearby cliff which had the ruins of a Roman tower. Today the old castle is reduced to ruins, while over the centuries the new castle has expanded with new buildings.

Over the years, the castle belonged to Walsee family, Hapsburg family, von Hofer family and the present owners, Thurn and Taxis family. Since 2003, the castle has been opened to public.

In 1911-12 the well known romantic poet Rainer Maria Rilke stayed here and started writing his famous "Elegies of Duino".

The castle is a mixture of styles and periods. It was damaged during the first World War and then renovated. During the second World War, the castle was occupied by the Germans.

Bunkers of the Duino Castle

Underneath the castle a long cave was excavated in 1943 by the forced labour of the German army. The entrance to this cave is hidden in the park outside the castle. This 18 meters deep and 400 sq. meters long cave was used as a bunker by the Germans during the II World War. A canon was placed here facing the bay of Trieste.

In the summer of 1944, a training course for the Italian under-officials was organised in this bunker. The diary kept by the students of this course gives an idea of the life in the bunker in those days. The image below presents an illustration from that diary showing a march of the German soldiers.

Visiting the bunker means going up and down a large number of stairs, but it is worth it.

Visiting the Duino Castle

The castle is full of rooms showing rich tapestries, brocades, period furniture, art objects from different parts of the world, violins, books and other things of the previous owners.

Its walls have many portraits of persons from the European noble families.

The castle includes a tower with rooms at the top and the possibility of visiting the rooftop terrace from where you can see the whole castle as well as the surrounding areas and the bay of Trieste.

The tower hosts a museum and exhibitions. When we visited it had an exhibition of Rilke and on the life in the early days of 20th century which led to the first world war. The image below shows a part of the castle seen from the rooftop terrace of the tower.

Gardens of the Duino Castle

The castle has gardens at different levels, going up and down, full of fountains and sculptures.

The Old Castle of Duino

A path from the garden of the castle goes towards the ruins of the old castle, hugging the rocks of the cliff with the sea below.

Entry to the old castle ruins is forbidden. It does look very dangerous and, at the same time, very romantic!

Legend of the White Lady of Duino

There is an old legend according to which, long time back a cruel man had pushed his wife down into the sea from the cliffs of Duino and God had turned that woman into a small white island. This is the legend of the Dama Bianca (white lady) island close to the cliffs of Duino.

Holidays in Duino

Dunio can be a wonderful place for holidays. It has many hotels. The whole area is full of hiking, fishing and cycling tracks. For example, you can follow the walking track named after Rilke, where the poet had received the inspiration for the first line of his Duino Elegies during a walk.

There are many places to visit nearby including Cernizza forest, Fisherman's village and San Giovanni in Tuba basilica.

There is also a beach close to Duino castle. People also go out for boating and canoeing in the Bay of Trieste.


Like the Miramare castle of the Hapsburg family, the castle of Duino is a tiny jewel surrounded by the green creepers and emerald blue waters of the bay of Trieste. The ruins of the old castle on the rocky cliffs of Duino are absolutely amazing. If you are visiting this part of Italy, do not miss Duino!



  1. Replies
    1. It is an amazing place! Thanks Durga Prasad

  2. This is beautiful!! looks like a scene from historical movies!!


  3. The old castle is truly spell-binding,atop a hill.

  4. Beautiful pictures specially the white lady . From where its name "white lady" is derived ?

    1. They call il white lady because of its white colour and its shape! Thanks Yogi


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