The origins of the castle date back from 1504, during the Sengoku Period, when a fortress was first established on the site under the name of Fukashi Castle. The complex was expanded and its defenses greatly improved over the following years, since the control of the country was still being disputed at war, and was completed towards the end of the century. In 1872 the castle's site was auctioned for redevelopment, but its demolition was successfully stopped thanks to popular pressure and became property of the city government.
Matsumoto Castle's main keep dates from 1592 and retains its original appearance, featuring an exquisite wooden interior which provides an authentic look into a traditional Japanese castle. Unique to this tower is the annexed Tsukimi-yagura, a barely defended turret built after the war with a "moon viewing" room. The second floor of the keep includes an gun museum with a collection of old guns, armors and other samurai weapons.
The castle grounds are now a large park, surrounded by moats and include two of the main gates which are reconstructions dating from 1990 and 2002. The park is especially popular during spring, thanks to the hundreds of cherry blossom trees planted. Free English speaking volunteer guides can be found next to the castle's entrance during touristy seasons.