The castle, an imposing civic building from the medieval Veronese period, was built between 1354 and 1356 by order of Cangrande II della Scala. The design was conceived by the della Scala family as a defence against both outside invasions and popular rebellion.
The surrounding area allowed for a rapid and easy escape from the city:after crossing the fortified bridge, accessible only to the noble family, the road to the north along the Adige valley was a secure route.
The city’s geographically strategic location led to the development of a fortification system, consolidating the remains of the Roman and Commune periods.
In 1404, following the brief Carrara and Visconti dominations, the city became part of the Venetian Republic. The castle was used exclusively for military purposes, as a weapons and munitions warehouse and subsequently, in the eighteenth century, became the seat of the Venetian military academy.
In the days of the anti-French revolt known as the “Pasque Veronesi” (1797) the castle was the site of numerous armed engagements. The Napoleonic epoch marked the beginning of a radical transformation of the existing structure. The plan provided for the construction of an army barracks around three sides of the drill court, but only those sections along the river and towards the Palazzo Canossa were built. This building, in neo-classical style, continued to serve a military function in the Austrian epoch.
Only after 1923 did the castle cease to serve an exclusively military function. It underwent a dramatic structural change, following plans by Antonio Avena, director of the Civic Museums, and the architect Ferdinando Forlati: the reconstruction of the swallowtail battlements, the insertion of late Gothic and Renaissance decorative elements in the facades, and extension of the pictorial decoration in “period” style. Beginning in 1925 the castle became a museum, where valuable art collections were installed.