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Etruscan Arch

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Maybe the most beautiful and majestic testimony of the ancient Etruscan Civilisation in Perugia is the Etruscan Arch, also known as Arch Augustus (or gate Tezia, Northern gate, gate Pulchra, gate of Via Vecchia and so on). Its origins date back to the III Century B.C., built along the perimeter of the old Etruscan Wall, it was the most important entrance to the city.

It is made of travertine, as most Etruscan buildings, extracted from the cave of Saint Sabina. The cubes were assembled without using any mortar. The arch is placed in the middle of two trapezoidal towers built using the same technique.

It is the most ancient of Perugian gates and it did not undergo many changes throughout the centuries, except for a Renaissance loggia above the left tower and a fountain built in the XVII century, at the feet of the same tower.

The other name the arch goes by, Arch Augustus, originates from an event that saw the emperor Octavious Augustus as protagonist in the year 40 B.C. Augustus’ attempt of driving out Lucius Antonius – brother of Marcus Antonius with whom Octavious was at war to seize power in Rome – was one of the greatest sieges in the history of Ancient Rome. Octavius won and immediately began the requalification process, giving a new social and architectural life to Perugia and renaming it “Augusta Perusia”. The inscription is still visible on the arches whose restoration – commissioned by the Municipality of Perugia – brought to light the original red finish in which the letters were painted, most likely to make them visible from afar.

There is another inscription on the arch, on the frame above the arcade, reading Colonia Vibia”, that was affixed by the Roman emperor of Perugian origins Trebonianus Gallus  (born in Monte Vibiano Vecchio, in the municipality of Marsciano, emperor from 251 to 253 A.D.) and declared Perugia a Roman colony.

The arch is located in Piazza Fortebraccio,near Palazzo Antinori-Gallenga Stuart.

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