The Torrione was built in the 12th century as a tower house, enlarged in the following century by the feudal lord Ezzelino III da Romano – the so-called “tyrant” – and then largely demolished after his death. In the mid 14th century, during the occupation of the city by the Della Scala family from Verona, the fortress was rebuilt and integrated with the medieval city walls. It stood at the city’s western gate, that now gives access to the historic centre of Vicenza. Mastino II and then Antonio Della Scala transformed the area around it into a large castle, with a square ground plan delimited by a deep moat. A tower stood at each corner with the Torrione rising up in the middle.
During the rule of the Visconti family of Milan, crenellations and a lantern were added to the top of the Torrione, giving it its present shape and appearance. By the seventeenth century the castle had lost its defensive function and it was sold to the Valmarana family, except for the Torrione itself, which presided over the public entrance to the city centre. The Valmarana turned the northern wing of the castle into a noble palazzo overlooking a garden, but in the 18th century most of these structures were demolished, leaving only the Torrione intact. The site of the ancient castle now corresponds to the rectangular courtyard known as the “court of arms”, which precedes the main entrance to the Torrione, alongside Corso Palladio.
In the 19th and 20th centuries a second arch flanked by two pedestrian corridors was added to the walls adjoining the Torrione, to accommodate the increase in traffic. The most recent restorations of the tower were in 1999 and 2018.