The castle is surrounded by a Mediterranean garden full of flowers, rose gardens and pergolas. The breathtaking view will accompany you inside the castle. Once you enter the castle you can see numerous bas-reliefs and furnishings of fine workmanship, in marble or slate.
In the first room there are some original furniture, furnishings and a wall with gothic windows. From here you can access the terrace where the artillery was once housed. Consul Brown, from whom the castle takes its name, transformed this area into a splendid garden, still luxuriant and romantic today. No visit to Portofino is worthy without having taken at least one souvenir photo from this unique spot in the world.
Going upstairs you cross a staircase covered with "laggioni" (Genoese tiles): the use of majolica to cover the walls was widespread in Liguria.
In the staircase of the Castle there is a majolica depicting a present, a copy of the Adoration of the Magi attributed to Gagini (15th century), the original is located in Genoa in Via Orefici 47r.
In the stairwell it is possible to admire a medieval wooden coffered roof painted with images of saints, martyrs and rulers.
The hall on the first floor is covered with Lombard-type cross vaults. In the center of the room stands a large triptych and on the right a majolica stove.
On the first floor there are various themed rooms: on the right we find the "Dolcevita" room with period images of all the illustrious characters who visited Portofino: from Prince Antonio De Curtis known as Totò to Winston Churchill, from Walt Disney to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and many others.
One room is dedicated to the miniature model of Portofino, framed with original and priceless furniture.
Another room worthy of interest is the "cetacean" room which arises from the collaboration between the municipality of Portofino, the Park Authority of the Portofino marine reserve and the Aquarium of Genoa.
Last but not least, the circular room where you can enjoy a bit of local history: from the real visit to Portofino by the last German Kaiser William II, to the Portofinesi, hardworking people full of spirit of collaboration.
Important is the marble bas-relief, recently restored by the Municipality of Portofino, present in this room, dating from around the 11th century, which shows St. Martin, the Virgin nursing the child and St. George killing the dragon.
Going up the tower, the visitor can enjoy the multimedia room "Yesterday, today, tomorrow" to immerse himself in a profound idyll of music, images and colors, where a video will explain the history of the Borgo.
The first official information on today's structure dates back to 1425 when Tomaso Fregoso, doge of the Republic of Genoa until 1421, occupied the village of Portofino and its fortress in opposition to Filippo Maria Visconti, duke of Milan. In 1430 it returned to be the domain of Genoa thanks to Francesco Spinola di Ottobono. The castle, located in a strategic position since it was possible to have a wide view over the village and the Tigulline Gulf, was repeatedly the subject of continuous attempts of occupation and sieges until the early fourteenth century.
In the early 1500s the building was renovated and enlarged with the construction of a battery, a watch tower and another building on the hill in front of the castle. The new buildings were built a few meters away and in positions that allow a wide view of the village, control of the marine horizon and naval movements that could immediately be communicated to the lord.
The Genoese Senate hires the trusted designer of King Charles V of Spain, Gian Maria Olgiati, to modernize the defense system of the Senate fortresses. The Senate approved the Olgiati project report, thus starting the extension works, using a new platform towards the port. The works ended in 1557
A new Castellan, Gerolamo Vassallo from Portofino, settles in the fortress. To ensure greater military defense, given the frequent Saracen attacks in Liguria, the castle was equipped with new housing for the garrison, ammunition and weapons. This intervention proved to be very effective when the cannons of the castle repelled in 1575 the attack of Giò Andrea Doria under the command of five hundred arquebusiers. The admiral will later have control of the entire Republic of Genoa. He managed to subdue almost all the forts of the Riviera di Levante: all except the Castle.
In these years further enlargements were made, in conjunction with the war between Genoa and the Duchy of Savoy. Evidence of the time, by the Magnificent Ambrogio Grimaldi Cebà, also a Castellano, brings us to the attention of the fact that in 1664, the year of numerous attacks, 154 pounds of dust were fired from the castle, mainly on criminal galleys
Further upgrading works were carried out including the restoration of the walls and the replacement of the entire armament. When, in 1746, yet another attack on the castle was foiled, this time by an Aglo-Austro-Sarda garrison, Duke Richeliu, a descendant of the cardinal, ordered that a French garrison be placed to watch over the town and the gulf
After the Napoleonic conquest of Liguria, the castle passed under French rule. New works were carried out both in the building, with the expansion of the walls, and in the port below. Porto Napoleone, as it was renamed by Bonaparte himself, was unable to withstand the English attacks, despite a thick and organized defense
After the Congress of Vienna, with the passage of Portofino first to the kingdom of Sardinia and then to that of the new Kingdom of Italy, the castle lost its strategic and military importance. It was then decommissioned and definitively disarmed. To revive the destiny of this historic building was the English Consul Montague Yeats Brown, who, after having admired it from the sea during the exits on his Black Tulip vessel, was fascinated by it and bought it for the sum of seven thousand lire. Brown entrusted the task of restoring the castle to the architect Alfrdo de Andrade and the engineer Pietro Tamburelli. The building was completely transformed into a private residence without distorting it. As proof of this there are the testimonies written by Baron Alfonso Von Munn, who lives in the nearby castle of San Giorgio, which describe how the Consul did not alter the original design in any way and furnished the property with "furniture and furnishings of a great connoisseur and collector ". The last owner of the castle, who collected the historical information received to date, was the Englishman John Baber.
1961 the castle becomes property of the Municipality of Portofino
Below is the video of the episode of “Storie di Palazzi“, a TV program dedicated to the story of some of the most beautiful historical buildings and monuments in Italy, presented by Stefano Tiozzo and with interviews with Erika and Francesco who illustrate the history, curiosities and details of the Castle.
How to arrive
Once you arrive in the village of Portofino, Castello Brown can be reached via a short walk of about 10 minutes, from the churchyard of San Giorgio or alternatively from the park of the same name which starts from the end of the Portofino pier.
Below we illustrate the ways in which you can choose to arrive in our enchanting village to visit the Castle
A12 Genoa - La Spezia motorway, Rapallo exit and follow the directions for Santa Margherita Ligure - Portofino.
Cars can be left in the paid parking garage in Portofino, Piazza Martiri della Libertà, open 24/7.
Santa Margherita Ligure - Portofino station and then continue on foot, by bus or taxiInformation
From the F.S. Santa Margherita Ligure - Portofino take one of the several direct connections to the village of PortofinoInformation
To get to the village of Portofino it is possible to take the SP227, taking a walk starting from the center of Rapallo or Santa Margherita and reaching Portofino along a path that runs along the sea and crosses the rich nature of the Portofino regional natural park.itinerary
The management of Castello Brown after almost twenty years of being entrusted to private companies, has recently returned to the direct responsibility of the Municipality of Portofino, thus allowing a direct connection with the administrative management of our city.Municipal website