Monday, April 21, 2014


847/853 for Pope S. Leo IV (847/855)
The pope wanted to protect Rome from new attacks of the Muslims who had already invaded and sacked Rome in 846
"If the ancient sources leave us with no doubts that the Walls of Leo IV were connected to Castel Sant'Angelo, the south part of the walls that closed the city at the river side is not even conceivable; it seems reasonable to assume that the area near the Tiber, through which the Saracens entered, would not be left without defense and that, probably, the new walls would join together with Castel Sant'Angelo so that the castle could constitute the key defending fortress for both Rome and the Vatican" (Daniela Fonti)
They surrounded the CIVITAS LEONINA (City of Leo) for 3 km (1,8 miles) and were provided with 46 fortified towers, turres castellatae
"The towers were forts difficult to attack: they have windows to the outside to see the enemy coming and 'traditrici' (traitors), cut-outs that look inward and allow the hit enemy who would have already penetrated into the city. (...) A very interesting type of defense is possible (...) indicating the type of struggles that took place frequently in this part of Rome" (Daniela Fonti)
The walls were restored for the popes Nicholas III Orsini (1277/81), Nicholas V Parentucelli (1447/55), Alexander VI Borgia (1492/1503), Clement VII Medici (1523/34)
Paul III Farnese (1534/49) had the walls restored in the area of the TURRIONIS (Porta Cavalleggeri) by Antonio Cordini aka Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546) who also designed the unfinished PORTA S. SPIRITO
It was the part of the walls through which the Lansquenets had entered Rome in 1527 during the Sack of Rome and it was consequently the most damaged part
Finally Pius IV Medici (1559/65) in 1561 ordered to begin the enlargement of the walls to Captain Francesco Laparelli (1521/70) from Cortona, who was recommended to the pope by Michelangelo. They are those still visible around most of the Vatican City today and the work was completed for St. Pius V Ghislieri (1566/72) in 1568
A larger area of the Borgo neighborhood was included, but this expansion was demolished after 1870, with Porta Angelica which had been opened during the expansion in the area where Piazza Risorgimento is today
"Rome, as the inscriptions on the gates mentioned, had returned to be caput mundi, splendor and hope of the world, golden Rome. With the construction of the Leonine City and the victory over the Saracens, in the circle that determined papal policy a new image of Rome began to form, but it was short-lived and it didn't leave important traces other than the walls and the city of Leo IV. The period in which the height of the Carolingian revival is beautifully reflected in the architecture and decoration of the churches in Rome is rather the one from the time of Pope Leo III (795/816) until nearly the middle of the ninth century" (Richard Krautheimer)
TORRE DI S. GIOVANNI (St. John 's Tower)
In the highest area of the Vatican Hill behind the PORTA PERTUSA
The diameter is 16 m (52 ​​feet) and the wall thickness at the base is 4.5 m (15 feet)
John XXIII Roncalli (1958/63) had it restored and wanted to use it as his summer residence even though he never had a chance to actually use it, because he died too soon
It seems that he spent the enormity of 4 billion lira (equivalent to 2,065,000 million euros, an exorbitant sum for 1963) to equip the "residence" with four floors also provided with an elevator and air conditioning. It was perhaps the only quirk of the "Good Pope"
Not far from the church of S. Pellegrino used by the Swiss Guards. It was the main access from the north to enter the Vatican. It had various names: Aurea (golden), Cassia (leading to the Cassian Way), Sancti Petri (St. Peter's) or Viridaria (of the gardens) for its proximity to the Vatican gardens, the latter name being the one used for a long time since the end of the thirteenth century. From the fifteenth century the not very noble name of Porta Merdaria was used, apparently of working-class origin, given the proximity of an illegal garbage dump
Porta Saxonum
It later became PORTA S. SPIRITO and it was restored in 1543 by Antonio Cordini aka Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546) but left it incomplete because of a quarrel with Michelangelo about the design of fortifications
Door near Castel Sant'Angelo
Maybe corresponding to the ancient Porta Cornelia of the Aurelian Walls. The exact location is not known for sure
Fourth gate of which the site is unknown
Maybe corresponding to PORTA PERTUSA in the west end side behind the TORRE DI S. GIOVANNI or PORTA FABBRICA to the south of the sacristy of the Basilica of St. Peter
Now Porta Fabbrica is walled and partially underground, with a crest on the side of Clement XI Albani (1700/21) above the symbol of the Reverenda Fabbrica di S. Pietro, one of the most powerful confraternities at the time when the basilica was built and still existing as a body responsible for the maintenance of the complex
PASSETTO DI CASTEL SANT'ANGELO (Passage of Castel Sant'Angelo)
Maybe about 1278 for Nicholas III Orsini (1277/80) the first pope who wanted to live in the Vatican. Opened in the northern section of the Leonine Wall
It was definitely used since the beginning of the fifteenth century as a mostly covered walkway for the popes to escape quickly from the Vatican Palace to Castel Sant'Angelo in case of danger
It was restored by Alexander VI Borgia (1492/1503) and used by Clement VII Medici (1523/34) during the sack of Rome in 1527

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