Mackenzie Castle – Genoa, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Mackenzie Castle

This Gothic revival structure has been a family home, a military base, a gymnastics center, and is now owned by one of the largest auction houses in Italy. 


This remarkable building in Genova, northern Italy, was designed by Gino Coppedè at the instigation of Scottish businessman Evan Mackenzie. This insurance magnate was a “hands-on” client and the form of the building as we see it is owed much to the changes of mind and requests made by Mackenzie during the building phase.

Much of the interior woodwork was produced by a firm owned by Coppedé’s family. After its completion in 1905, it remained a family home for 27 years before being sold by Mackenzie’s daughter some four years after his death.

Both its position and its imposing structure saw it adopted for military use in World War II, being occupied by both the Germans and the Allies, and was later used by the Italian Carabinieri until the 1970s. After being declared a national monument, it was used by a gymnastics association but the building continued to deteriorate until 1986 when it was restored into a private museum. This restoration was never really completed and in 2002 it was acquired by its current owners, the Cambi Auction House who finished the job.

The interior is at least as remarkable as the exterior with the star of the show probably being the chapel. A good proportion of visitors to this building (pre-booked guided tours are available) first come across it when going to the railway station at Manin to get the historic train to the mountain village of Casella. The imposing tower can be seen from the station when looking south. A return trip, when time permits, is worthwhile. The building needs no description, the pictures do all the work.

Know Before You Go

Unless you want to walk up the hill you can take the (very scenic) 83 circular bus route from outside the Principe metro station to Manin. This is not the quickest route but it is the most interesting.

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March 13, 2024

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