It stands on the crest of a hill, clearly visible with its robust walls and bastions and with the imposing bulk of the famous fortress. A very suggestive vision for those who travel along the Adriatic highway or the state highway alongside it.
Equipped with a first medieval defense tower (the ‘Mastio’) in 1150, the “castle” of Gradara (Castrum Cretarie) was made independent by the Pesaro administration by Piero and Rodolfo De Grifo. Subsequently the Malatesta family, after having purchased the castle from the De Grifo family, transformed the tower into a fortress complete with the first group of walls; subsequently they added also the seven hundred meters of the second group with the seventeen crenellated towers and the three drawbridges that made the fort impregnable.
Once the Malatesta domination ceased, the castle passed to the Sforza family who left their mark on it, adding the beautiful internal loggia, the staircase and the frescoes that still adorn some rooms, including those of the apartment where Lucrezia Borgia lived for three years after the wedding. with Giovanni Sforza (1493). After the Sforzesco period, it passed to the Della Rovere family until the devolution of the aducato of Urbino lla Chiesa (1631).
Only after almost three centuries of neglect and neglect was the engineer Umberto Zanvectors who in 1920 devoted all his substances to the recovery of the fort: what happened gradually, also by his wife Alberta Porta Natale until (1983) it passed into Italian state property.
Today Gradara, in addition to the monumental Rocca, offers the visitor its double wall and towers with the battlements and the recessed eaves walkways. Within the walls, the inhabited area preserves its ancient houses and the church of S.Giovanni Battista where a valuable 15th-century wooden crucifix is kept, while in the church of SS.Sacramento an altarpiece is visible (“Last Supper” ) by Antonio Cimatori (1595).
The precious altarpiece (“Enthroned Madonna with the Child and Saints”) painted by Giovanni Santi in 1484 for the ancient parish church of S.Sofia was instead transferred to the Rocca.
It takes an ancient tradition that the ferocious assassination of Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Polenta by the betrayed Giovanni (Gianciotto) Malatesta called “Lo Sciancato” took place within the walls of the fortress of Gradara. Ancient blood story immortalized by the famous verses of Dante Alighieri.