The origins of the castle date back to the Middle Ages at the time of the longobard conquests in southern Italy. A first hypothesis is the legendary Knight Sessualdo (or Gesualdo), faithful servant of the Benevento Duchy, as the founder of the Manor in the middle of the sixth century and the First Lord of Gesualdo.
Another thesis dates back to the construction of the original nucleus of the manor around the ninth century for the will of Radelchi, Prince of Benevento, as an outpost to defend the southern boundaries of its lands. However, the first documented records date back to the XIIth century at the time of the rule of the Normans; the first gentleman was William of Altavilla.
His descendants ruled the feud for five centuries. The most illustrious representative of the Norman descendant was Carlo Gesualdo, who lived in the castle on horseback between 500 and 600. It gained considerable importance in the Norman-Swabian era due to its neural position on one of the most frequented natural streets in Irpinia. It became one of the most important fortresses in our area. In 1137 it was already well known to the Benedictines of Montecassino, who stood there during the direct trip to Lagopesole to pacify with Pope Innoccenzo II. first documents around the formation of the inhabited center date back to 1078, that is, the year in which he was Lord Guglielmo Gesualdo nominee Elia II lord of the "Costis of Gisualdi".
At the end of the fifteenth century, with the advent of Carlo Gesualdo, the manor changes its appearance and becomes a Renaissance style mansion. The prince made the courtyard and loggia of the southern tower, new apartments and kitchens equipped to house a court, the rooms and galleries were decorated with Hierarchical paintings, Flemish, the Theater Hall, then gardens and fountains were realized. Many of the work begun by the prince were completed with the Signoria dei Ludovisi. There followed centuries less flourishing and less virtuous owners who resurfaced the manor of many of the testimonies of the Prince's presence. The earthquake of September 8, 1694, collapsed on the third floor that had been built at the end of the sixteenth century.
The castle suffered a number of damage and looting over the centuries: during the Franco-Spanish War (1460), when Ferdinand I of Aragon, for the revenge of Louis Il Gesualdo, destroyed it in part; with the arrival of French troops in 1799.
In 1855, after decades of abandonment to ruinous earthquakes and looting, the castle became the property of the Caccese family, which possessed a profound structural transformation: the avenue of Piazza Neviera, the complete refurbishment of the façade and the creation of new internal ambients. On October 13, 1913, for its high architectural, historical, artistic and environmental value, it was bound by the Superintendent of Artistic and Environmental Goods of Salerno and Avellino.
The castle was severely damaged by the Irpinia earthquake of November 23, 1980. Becoming public in the early 2000s, it has been affected by long recovery work that has not yet been fully completed. Reopened to the public in December 2015 is only partially restored pending the start-up of the provincial property recovery work. At present, the Southeast area environments, the courtyard and the hanging garden can be visited.
With the definitive completion of the restoration work, the Castle will host a high school of polyphony education.
The exhibition "Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa. Musical Instruments "by Luigi Sisto (Professor of Musical Instrument History at the Conservatory of Music San Pietro in Majella of Naples), on permanent exhibition in the Castle of Gesualdo is the concrete implementation of the project called" Restoration of the Castle of Gesualdo with destination at the European Center for Music Culture ", implemented by the City of Gesualdo (Avellino).
The first reconstruction of the musical instruments belonging to the Principal Madrigalist Carlo Gesualdo was born from the reading of the documents relating to the goods present in the Castle of Gesualdo in 1630. These documents, kept in the Boncompagni Ludovisi Fund of the Vatican Secret Archives (ASV, Archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi, Inventory of all the goods are found in the castle of Gesualdo, number 274, series V No. 2, cc 709v, 710r, 711r; and Public Copy of the Furniture Inventory Existing in the Castle of Gesualdo, issue 274, Series V, No. 6, ct 774r-v) provided valuable and detailed information on the types of musical instruments belonging to Prince Charles Gesualdo: arciliuto, chromatic harpsichord, guitar, organ, tiorba. Reproduced specimens are real masterpieces.
Made by the best Italian artisans on the scientific project and the co-ordination of the writers, they are the result of a long and accurate research based on historical, archival, organological, museum, and iconographic sources. They will be exhibited in the halls of the Gesualdo Castle together with prints and manuscripts of Gesualdo's time and the rare and precious edition of the book of madrigals by Carlo Gesualdo, kept at the Library of the Conservatory of San Pietro a Majella in Naples. This heritage will be the first nucleus of the constitution of the Gesualdo Castle Museum, which has the ambition to become a true cultural reference for the Italian Renaissance music with particular attention to the production of the polygonic madrigal of the late sixteenth century and the monodie of the first sixteenth century, but also as a living museum in which to experience types of ancient musical instruments in many cases never realized or documented today only by iconographic, artwork and archive sources or by rare museum testimonies.