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            Italy

La Spezia

Castle of Saint Giorgio





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Summary

The Castle of San Giorgio, La Spezia dates back to the 13th century providing great views over the city.  It also houses an Archaeological Museum containing artefacts relating to La Spezia dating from the Neolithic age, with an extensive display of Roman artefact.
 


The Castle of San Giorgio, overlooking the city of La Spezia, originates from a watchtower with the first castle on the site being built in 1262 by the ruler of the area Nicoḷ Fieschi with the intension of strengthen his domination in the area. Today only the base portion of the watchtower is preserved and this is included in the upper part of the structure,

In 1273 the castle was destroyed by the Genoese Republic under Oberto Doria, who captured, destroyed and plundered La Spezia.  Nicoḷ Fieschi was forced to give up all his possessions to the Republic.

A century later, in the 1370s,  the castle was replaced by a new fortification and line of walls. This has been significantly enlarged and restored over the years and in 1443 the castle underwent significant work with the addition of the structure facing the valley, the design of which also enabled firearms to be used. A century later, in the 1550s, construction of an important defensive addition called the "Bastia", was added. 

In 1607, the castle was remodelled by the Genoese taking it to its present form and today the castle provides an imposing structure displaying many of its original features with its arrow slits dating back to the 14th century. It was at this time that its current walls were built.  

The castle was for many years neglected but in 1985 work started go restore and conserve it. This did involve some modifications being undertaken to restore its design to a previous age, which involved the reconstruction of the ramp and removal of walls within the complex. It also involved the covering of some parts of the pavement with grating to enable the remains of the mediaeval structures found during the restoration to be left visible.

With the final stage of the work was carried out between 1996 and 1998, when the upper part of the castle was completed. The coats-of-arms of the Republic of Genoa and the bas-relief of St. George and the dragon were again placed over the gateway.  

The castle today houses an Archaeological Museum which exhibits objects dating back to the Neolithic, Copper,  Bronze and Iron ages.  It also contains an extensive display of Roman artefacts include objects excavated from the nearby Luni (Luni is a Roman city located on the border between Tuscany and Liguria) settlement.  The exhibits include decorative marble busts and statues, as well as household utensils, coins and religious objects.   



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All  Photographs Copyright: Ron Gatepain

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