Ancona is a city and a seaport in the Marches region, in central Italy. Ancona is the capital of the province of Ancona and of the region.
The city is located 280 km (170 mi) northeast of Rome, on the Adriatic Sea, between the slopes of the two extremities of the promontory of Monte Conero, Monte Astagno and Monte Guasco.
Ancona is one of the main ports on the Adriatic Sea, especially for passenger traffic, and is the main economic and demographic centre of the region.
When it became a Roman colony is doubtful. It was occupied as a naval station in the Illyrian War of 178 BC. Julius Caesar took possession of it immediately after crossing the Rubicon. Its harbour was of considerable importance in imperial times, as the nearest to Dalmatia, and was enlarged by Trajan, who constructed the north quay with his Syrian architect Apollodorus of Damascus. At the beginning of it stands the marble triumphal arch with a single archway, and without bas-reliefs, erected in his honour in 115 by the Senate and Roman people.
In 1534 a decision by Pope Paul III favoured the activity of merchants of all nationalities and religions from the Levant and allowed them to settle in Ancona with their families. A Venetian travelling through Ancona in 1535 recorded that the city was “full of merchants from every nation and mostly Greeks and Turks”. In the second half of the 16th c., the presence of Greek and other merchants from the Ottoman Empire declined after a series of restrictive measures taken by the Italian authorities and the pope.
Disputes between the Orthodox and Catholic Greeks of the community were frequent and persisted until 1797 when the city was occupied by France who closed all the religious confraternities and confiscated the archive of the Greek community. The church of St. Anna dei Greci was re-opened to services in 1822. In 1835, in the absence of a Greek community in Ancona, it passed to the Latin Church.
In 1733 Pope Clement XII extended the quay, and an inferior imitation of Trajan's arch was set up; he also erected a Lazaretto at the south end of the harbour, Luigi Vanvitelli being the architect-in-chief. The southern quay was built in 1880, and the harbour was protected by forts on the heights. From 1797 onwards, when the French took it, it frequently appears in history as an important fortress. Ancona entered in the Kingdom of Italy when Christophe Léon Louis Juchault de Lamoricière surrendered here on 29 September 1860, eleven days after his defeat at Castelfidardo.
During World War II, in July 1944, the city was taken by the Polish II Corps as part of an Allied operation to gain access to a seaport closer to the Gothic Line in order to shorten their lines of communication for the advance into northern Italy.
- The Cathedral of Ancona, dedicated to Judas Cyriacus, was consecrated at the beginning of the 11th century and completed in 1189. Some writers suppose that the original church was in the form of a basilica and belonged to the 7th century. An early restoration was completed in 1234. It is a fine Romanesque building in grey stone, built in the form of a Greek cross, and other elements of Byzantine art. It has a dodecagonal dome over the centre slightly altered by Margaritone d'Arezzo in 1270. The façade has a Gothic portal, ascribed to Giorgio da Como (1228), which was intended to have a lateral arch on each side. The interior, which has a crypt under each transept, in the main preserves its original character. It has ten columns which are attributed to the temple of Venus. The church was restored in the 1980s.
- The Arch of Trajan, 18 m high, erected in 114/115 as an entrance to the causeway atop the harbour wall in honour of the emperor who had made the harbour, is one of the finest Roman monuments in Le Marche. Most of its original bronze enrichments have disappeared. It stands on a high podium approached by a wide flight of steps. The archway, only 3 m wide, is flanked by pairs of fluted Corinthian columns on pedestals. An attic bears inscriptions. The format is that of the Arch of Titus in Rome, but made taller, so that the bronze figures surmounting it, of Trajan, his wife Plotina and sister Marciana, would figure as a landmark for ships approaching Rome's greatest Adriatic port.
- The Lazzaretto (Laemocomium or "Mole Vanvitelliana"), planned by architect Luigi Vanvitelli in 1732 is a pentagonal building covering more than 20,000 m², built to protect the military defensive authorities from the risk of contagious diseases eventually reaching the town with the ships. Later it was used also as a military hospital or as barracks; it is currently used for cultural exhibits.
- The National Archaeological Museum (Museo Archeologico Nazionale) is housed in the Palazzo Ferretti, built in the late Renaissance by Pellegrino Tibaldi; it preserves frescoes by Federico Zuccari. The Museum is divided into several sections:
Prehistoric section, with palaeolithic and neolithic artefacts, objects of the Copper Age and of the Bronze Age. protohistoric section, with the richest existing collection of the Picenian civilization; the section includes a remarkable collection of Greek ceramics
Greek-Hellenistic section, with coins, inscriptions, glassware and other objects from the necropolis of Ancona. Roman section, with a statue of Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, carved sarcophagi and two Roman beds with fine decorations in ivory.
- The Loggia dei Mercanti is a historical palace in Ancona. The palace was begun in 1442 by architect Giovanni Pace, also known as Sodo, in an economically flourishing period for Ancona. It was built near the port, which was the trade point of the mercantile republic in medieval times, in order to provide a meeting point for the traders. The building was restored in 1558-1561 after a fire, under the direction of Pellegrino Tibaldi, who also frescoed the central hall. The current façade was designed by the Dalmatian architect Giorgio da Sebenico, who worked to it in 1451 to 1459. It is divided into four vertical sections, topped by a pinnacle. Each one has a statue, representing (from left), Hope, Fortitude, Justice and Charity. The two side sections have two stained glass, ogival windows. In the upper sectors are blind double mullioned windows and, in the centre, is an equestrian statue of the Roman emperor Trajan. The Loggia was damaged by the Allied bombings during World War II, and was restored in the late 20th century.