Genoa, known in Italy as Genova, is the capital of Liguria and the sixth largest city in Italy. Nicknamed la Superba ("the Superb one") due to its glorious past and impressive landmarks, it is one of Europe's largest cities on the Mediterranean Sea and the largest seaport in Italy. Part of the old town of Genoa was inscribed on the World Heritage List (UNESCO) in 2006. The city's rich art, music, gastronomy, architecture and history, allowed it to become the 2004's European Capital of Culture. It is the birthplace of Christopher Columbus.
In the Roman era, Genoa was overshadowed by the powerful Marseille and Vada Sabatia, near modern Savona. Different from other Ligures and Celt settlements of the area, it was allied to Rome through a foedus aequum ("Equal pact") in the course of the Second Punic War. It was because of this alliance that the city was destroyed by the Carthaginians in 209 BC. The town was rebuilt and, after the end of the Carthaginian Wars, received municipal rights. The original castrum thenceforth expanded towards the current areas of Santa Maria di Castello and the San Lorenzo promontory. Genoese trades included skins, wood, and honey. Goods were shipped to the mainland from Genoa, up to major cities like Tortona and Piacenza.
Long ignored by conventional tourist routes, Genoa offers its visitors incredible attractions and a stunning artistic heritage.
Its medieval old town -- the biggest in Europe -- is an intricate labyrinth of alleyways, where among the shops, restaurants, and local stores, visitors can catch sight of the city's noble past in its 16th century palazzos, baroque edifices, and Romanesque churches, looming over the little piazzas.
Strada Nuova (the present-day via Garibaldi) was opened in the 1500's in a peripheral urban area, not far from the commercial center. This new, lovely and elegant street reflected brightly upon the most wealthy and powerful families of Genoa, who made it their own residential quarter. This long road winds alongside luxurious palazzos, with their grand atriums, staircases, courtyards, outdoor halls and hanging gardens -- innovations never before seen in the Genoa of that time.
It's easy to go out and enjoy yourself in Genoa. There is an abundance of restaurants and eating establishments in the historical city center to satisfy every taste, from traditional Ligurian cuisine to more exotic ethnic and fusion culinary creations. In addition, the musical scene is always in a ferment, not to mention the summertime, when the city explodes into festivals and the seaside areas fill up with crowds.
|La Porta Soprana, |
entrance through the city walls
- San Lorenzo Cathedral. The Cathedral of San Lorenzo, reconstructed in Romanesque style during the 12th century, has since the time of the Crusades protected the ashes of Saint John the Baptist (San Giovanni Battista), the patron saint of Genoa. The black and white edifice sits between two towers, and opening out from it are three richly decorated gothic doors. From the sides of the edifice emerge two stone lions and a statue of San Giovanni. The Museo del Tesoro is located in the basement of the Cathedral: it holds precious relics whose stories have passed into legend: the Sacro Catino, a relic of the Last Supper, the plate which held the head of the Baptist, the Croce degli Zaccaria, and the magnificent tabernacle containing the ashes of saints.
- The Palazzo San Giorgio. or Palace of St. George (also known as the Palazzo delle Compere di San Giorgio) is a palace situated in the Piazza Caricamento. The palace was built in 1260 by Guglielmo Boccanegra, uncle of Simone Boccanegra, the first Doge of Genoa. For the construction of the new palace, materials were used from the demolition of the Venetian embassy in Constantinople, having been obtained from Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII as a reward for Genoese aid against the Latin Empire. Stone lions, the emblem of Venice's patron St Mark were displayed as trophies on the facade by her bitter rival, the Republic of Genoa. The palace was intended — through the creation of a civil-political center — to separate and elevate the temporal power of the Republic's government from the religious power of the clergy, centered on the Cathedral of San Lorenzo. In 1262, Guglielmo Boccanegra was deposed and forced into exile. The palace was used for a time as a prison; Marco Polo was its most famous resident and it was there that he dictated his memoirs to Rustichello of Pisa.
- The Lighthouse of Genoa. simply called La Lanterna, is the main lighthouse for the city's port. Besides being an important aid to night navigation in the vicinity, the tower serves as a symbol for the City of Genoa, and is one of the oldest standing structures of its kind in the world. It is built on the hill of San Benigno at some little distance from the Sampierdarena neighborhood. At 249 feet (76 m) it is the world's second tallest "traditional lighthouse" built of masonry. It is constructed in two square portions, each one capped by a terrace; the whole structure is crowned by a lantern from which the light is shone.
- The City Walls. The city of Genoa during its long history at least since 9th century had been defended by different line of walls. To this day, large portions of these walls remain, and Genoa has more and longer walls than any other city in Italy. The main city walls are known as “Ninth century walls”, "Barbarossa Walls" (12th century ), "Fourteenth century walls", "Sixteenth century walls" and "New Walls" ("Mura Nuove" in Italian), the more imposing, built in the first half of 17th century on the ridge of hills around the city, having a length of almost 20 kilometres. Some fortresses stand along the perimeter of the "New Walls" or close them.
- The Aquarium of Genoa. Is the largest aquarium in Italy and the second largest in Europe. Built for Genoa Expo '92, the Aquarium of Genoa is an educational, scientific and cultural centre. Its mission is to educate and raise public awareness as regards conservation, management and responsible use of aquatic environments. It welcomes over 1.2 million visitors a year. Control of the entire environment, including the temperature, filtration, and lighting of the tanks was provided by local Automation Supplier Orsi Automazione, acquired in 2001 by Siemens. The Aquarium of Genoa is co-ordinating the AquaRing EU project. It also provides scientific expertise and a great deal of content for AquaRing, including documents, images, academic content and interactive online courses, via its Online Resource Centre.
Palazzo San Giorgio