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National Trust Site of the Month

Each month we feature an iconic site from across the globe.


Villa del Balbianello, FAI, Italy


The Villa del Balbianello is situated on the western bank of Lake Como in the commune of Lenno, Italy. It was built on the site of a Franciscan monastery for Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini at the end of the 18th century. Today remains the front of the convent church with its two towers. After the death of the cardinal in 1796, the villa passed to his nephew who sold it to his friend Giuseppe Arconati Visconti. The latter made improvements to the garden and the loggia.

The American businessman Butler Ames bought the property in 1919 and beautifully restored it. In 1974 his heirs sold the villa to explorer and mountaineer Guido Monzino who filled it with rich collections, including many artifacts from his expeditions. Monzino died in 1988 and left the villa to the Fondo Ambiante Italiano. Please visit their website to learn more.

Several famous movies have used the site for location shooting including Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002) and Casino Royale (2006).



The featured site for November was:

The House of Wonders, Zanzibar Stone Town Heritage Society

The House of Wonders (Beit el Ajaib in Arabic) is a landmark building in Stone Town, Zanzibar. It was built in 1883 for the Sultan Sayyid Bargash for ceremonial purpose and was once the most modern building in East Africa, with electricity and an elevator. The design is attributed to a British marine engineer who introduced new elements into Zanzibar architecture such as the wide verandas supported by cast-iron.

dsc02963After the revolution, the House of Wonders was used by the ruling party and became a museum in 2001. Unfortunately a section of the southeastern corner collapsed in 2012 and the building is now closed to the public, waiting for restorations.

Stone Town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Following this, the Zanzibar Stone Town Society was created to promote conservation of the heritage and the environmental and cultural welfare of the inhabitants. Please visit their website.

©Zanzibar Stone Town Heritage Society



The featured site for October was:

Acoma Sky City, National Trust for Historic Preservation, USA


Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico is a Native American pueblo and the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States as it has existed for nearly a thousand years. Between 1629 and 1641, Father Juan Ramirez oversaw construction of the San Estevan Del Rey Mission Church. The Pueblo and the Mission Church are now Registered National Historic Landmarks and are on the National Register of Historic Places.




Many Pueblo people still live in Acoma or return for special cultural occasions. Known worldwide for its unique art and rich culture, Acoma Pueblo is the 28th Historic Site designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Please visit the Acoma Sky City and the National Trust for Historic Preservation websites to learn more.

Photos: ©National Trust for Historic Preservation





The featured site for September was:

Peel Castle, Manx National Heritage, Isle of Man

Peel Castle (2)
Peel Castle May2012

Situated on St Patrick’s Isle, Peel Castle is a majestic fortress of Isle of Man. It was originally a place of worship before becoming a fort in the 11th century, under the rule of the Viking King of Mann, Magnus Barefoot.

While the first Viking fortifications were built of wood, there were older stone Celtic monastic buildings on the island; then we can still visit St Patrick’s Church and the Round tower which date back to the 10th and 11th centuries. We can also discover the Cathedral of St German, the 16th century Great Garrison Hall and climb to the top of the Gatehouse Tower to enjoy panoramic views of Peel and beyond.

Peel Castle is now owned by Manx National Heritage and is opened to visitors during summer time. Please visit their website to learn more.

Photos: ©Manx National Heritage

Peel Castle (3)


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