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From Civitavecchia to Civita Castellana Civita Castellana

Civita Castellana was founded with the name of Falerium by the Falisci a distinct Etruscan tribe, which is thought to have some Greek origin. It was conquered in 396 B.C. by the Romans, who in 241 B.C. following several rebellions, pulled it down and moved its inhabitants to another less protected location Falerium Novum. In the Middle Ages however Falerium Novum was abandoned in favour of the old site, which offered greater natural protection. Castellana means of the castle, a reference to the castle built in medieval times and replaced by the fortress (in part designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Elder) erected by Alexander VI (1492-1503) and completed by Julius II (1503-13).

The fortress
The fortress

The fortress was used by the popes also as a prison. Other images can be seen in my page on the Fortresses of the Popes.

The Cathedral
The Cathedral

The Cathedral of Civita Castellana is the masterpiece of Jacopo di Lorenzo and his son Cosma who in 1210 built its fašade. A sort of triumphal arch separates two fine porticoes supported by elegant columns which were made for the occasion.

The portal and the right entrance
The portal and the right entrance

The decoration is a mixture of Early Christian and Byzantine elements combined in classical forms.

Main entrance
Main entrance

The entrance in the image here above shows also a shadow of Arab influence in the choice of black ad white marbles (an influence very visible in the Domes of Orvieto and Pisa).

Fountain with the dragons of Gregorius XIII
Fountain with the dragons of Gregorius XIII

Civita Castellana was protected by walls built by Alexander VI. You can see their main gate in my page on Gates of the Popes. The main square of Civita Castellana was embellished by Gregorius XIII (1572-85) with a fountain decorated with his heraldic dragon.

Early XVIIIth century fountain and late XVIIIth century inscription
Early XVIIIth century fountain and late XVIIIth century inscription

The XVIIIth century saw the move from Baroque to Neoclassic and the images here above show the move from rounded, complex lines to a more austere design. The isolated mountain shown near the inscription is Monte Soratte and it is clearly visible also from Rome.

Fortress of Borghetto
Fortress of Borghetto

Civita Castellana is very near the point where Via Flaminia crosses the Tiber. In the late XVIth century Sistus V (1585-90) deviated the river and built a new bridge (Ponte Felice). This made useless the little castle which protected the old crossing point.


From Civitavecchia to Civita Castellana - other pages:
Civitavecchia, Allumiere and Tolfa
Oriolo Romano and Caprarola
Sutri and Monterosi
Nepi and Castel Sant' Elia

some other walks:
Walks with Ferdinand Gregorovius in the Roman countryside
In and about Viterbo
A walk to Porta Furba
Via Appia Antica from Cecilia Metella to Torre in Selci
Via Appia Antica from Torre in Selci to Frattocchie


See my Home Page on Baroque Rome or my Home Page on Rome in the footsteps of an XVIIIth century traveller



All images © 1999 - 2003 by Roberto Piperno. Write to romapip@quipo.it