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Marostica

Marostica - Piazza Castello - view
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Marostica, also known as the “City of Chess”, is a small town in the Veneto region, located north-west of Venice. It is best known for its medieval-themed living chess festival and cherry festival.

Two castles, Castello Superiore and Castello Inferiore, guard the town and surrounding area. These castles, referred together as “Castello di Marostica”, were built in the early 14th century although the construction of the wall that connects them did not begin until later that century.

Castello Superiore, a large square building with four small corner towers and one large central one, stands on the hill above the town. Castello Inferiore, on the other hand, is a smaller square structure that guards the city’s walled gates. Directly in front of Castello Inferiore is the Piazza degli Scacchi (Chess Square), a square plaza built after World War II and tiled to look like a giant chessboard.

Things to see

Every evenly numbered year, Marostica holds a particular event where a huge chess game is played out with living pieces, including real knights on horseback. This tradition stems from a play written by Mario Mirko Vucetich in the early 20th century about an event that supposedly occurred in 1454, wherein two noblemen fell in love the daughter of a local Lord and came to quarrel. The two wished to duel, as was the custom, but the Lord forbade it, decreeing instead that they play a chess game where the winner would earn his daughter’s hand in marriage. This game was organized in the plaza, where supporters from each nobleman’s family served as the chess pieces. Although the story is fictional, Marostica reenacts the chess battle in its chequered square every September falling on an even numbered year.

Between May and June Marostica hosts the Cherry Festival, which dates back to 1933 and where the local harvest of cherries is celebrated with tastings, competitions and other events.