The City Walls of Bologna

MURA DI BOLOGNA b&b a BolognaBologna was from it`s earliest time associated with walls, indeed it is thought one of the earliest `visitors` the Etruscans built the first wall to guard what is now Bologna. The city has been surrounded by three different sets of walls, which in recent times have been
demolished to create the city ring road, that facilitates modern day traffic. We are happy to be able to say that in the inner city some parts of the old City wall still survive, as indeed do the medieval gates which granted access to the City.

The surviving gates are:
  • Porta Castiglione
  • Porta Maggiore
  • Porta San Vitale
  • Porta San Donato
  • Porta Mascarella
  • Porta Galliera
  • Porta Lame
  • Porta San Felice
  • Porta Saragozza

History

Bologna was protected by three sets of city walls constructed at different times. The earliest walls are believed to have been erected around 189 B.C. About this time the area was settled by the Romans and they called their new city Bononia. The early settlers built a network of roads in the Roman style, which means they all intersect in a precise geometrical order to give the perimeter of the city a hexagonal shape. The first set of city walls had a square shape and were built in moonstone which is found locally. These original Roman walls survived all the various barbarian invasion and can be said to establish the foot print of what is now the modern inner city centre.
These wall contained four gates to allow access to the city.

The second set of wall were built during the Middle Ages as the city expanded and improved defences were essential. These wall were built according to the medieval style and included defence towers within the wall structure which were needed for better surveillance and of course the defence of the gates.
The next set of walls are partly still visible and were built in a polygonal shape. The works were commenced in the XII century but were only finished much later. Petrarrch in a document dated 1363 A.D. describes the walls as like `a disconnected fencing.`The final set of walls features twelve gates at various points all around the city, each of which had one or two drawbridges.
Unfortunately most of these were demolished at the beginning of the 20 th century being sacrificied to modern urban planning, and of course anything the planners missed the bombers during W.W.2 obliterated. Of the twelve original gates only nine still remain and of course most of these have been modified during various renovations. Among the most noteworthy one we find Porta Galliera built during the second half on the 1600`s to celebrate the Papal power, this gate was constructed on the remains of a gate dating back to the 1200`s.

Curiosity

  • Near Porta Galliera, there's the Montagnola Gardens, a much loved green, opposite Piazza VIII Agosto where  there's an equally appreciated and loved flea market every Friday and Saturday

Visiting the Gates

park view b&b in bologna city centre