The Castello Orsini (Orsinis’ Castle) in Soriano nel Cimino was built for defensive purposes starting from the 13th century. Enlarged and improved during the following centuries, it is now in good conditions.
It is placed on the hill where Soriano nel Cimino was founded, on the north-eastern side of Mount Cimino.
The fortified structure was started by the Orsinis who arrived in Soriano n 1278 and was continued on a length of some 3 centuries (1278—1578).
The first part of the castle (a 35mt tower-palace) was erected on the remains of a previous castle dating back to year 1000 by Guastapane-Pandolfo. It went under improvement between 1277 and 1278 thanks to Cardinal Giangaetano Orsini – who became pope in 1277 (Niccolò III).
He decided to conquer the hamlet for political and expansion reasons and chased the Lords of Soriano (Guastapane and Pandolfo – wrongly accused of heresy in July 1278). Immediately after, the already existing tower was transformed into a fortified tower (the present merlon) by means a surrounding defensive wall whose path was due to define the perimeter of today’s complex.
Niccolò III died in the Castle in 1280 and his heirs kept the feud until 1366.
It is supposed – on the basis of various studies and researches – that 2 deep modifications occurred. The first – from 1377 to 1420 – when the Castle was occupied by the Bretton mercenary soldiers arrived in Italy following Cardinal Roberto da Ginevra. The second occurred from Niccolò IV (Tomaso Perentucelli) to Alessandro VI (Rodrigo Borgia).
In 1561 Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo gave start to further modifications with some structural implementations.
In 1848 Soriano was given to the Pope State and the castle was transformed into a prison.the first one belonging to Saint Siege. In 1871 it passed under the Italian State.
It works as a prison until the end of the 1980s and in 1989 is was definitely closed.
At present, the Castle is open to the public during the weekends and is used for festivals.