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The city Gates

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The two city walls of Perugia feature as many as 22 gates built in different periods and styles.   The first ones – built along the perimeter of the Etruscan Wall – are still partially visible, while the others were built along the Medieval Wall starting from the XIII Century. From the Etruscan Arch or Arco Augusto (more details at this link), walking up Colle Sole (the Hill of the Sun) we reach the original location of Porta Sole (Gate of the Sun), which was replaced by Arco dei Gigli (the Arch of Lilllies), built on the ancient Wall but dating back to the XII Century and named after the Lilium Crest affixed by Pope Paul III. Here, the original city wall is no longer visible, but keep walking south along its perimeter and you will reach the Gate of Sant’Ercolano also known as Porta Cornea.  This gate is of Etruscan origin, but only the base is original while the pointed arch was rebuilt during the XIII Century. The statue of a lion (emblem of the Guelphs that celebrated their protection) sits on the arch-top. Further down the wall you will reach the magnificent Porta Marzia. Built in the III Century BC. it was one of the most important entrance gates to the city. Actually, the main gate was demolished to make room for Rocca Paolina. But luckily the architect who designed the Rocca, Antonio da Sangallo, decided to keep the original arch and encase it in the bastion. Thanks to him we can still appreciate the magnificence and importance that this gate once held. Above the arch sits a reproduction of a loggia with five sculptures, probably divine figures, and the inscription “Colonia Vibia” wanted by Vibio Treboniano Gallo, a Roman Emperor of Perugian origin.

Moving west, you will then arrive to Porta Eburnea (the Ivory Gate) also known as Arco della Mandorla (the Arch of the Almond). It was named after the fruit due to the shape of its pointed arch which was built in the Middle Ages following renovation. The travertine base is still original as well as the well preserved wall. The name Eburnea (Ivory) comes from the elephant’s tusks, which were the symbol of the district the door was built on.

The last Etruscan door is Porta Trasimena, also here the base is original while the pointed arch was built in the Middle Ages. The name was given because the door faces lake Trasimeno, but it is also known as Gate of San Luca or Madonna della Luce, from the nearby churches. It was the favourite door of the Baglioni Family, who lived in the district and believed the arch had propitiatory powers; they would always cross it before going to battle.

The first gate on the Medieval Wall is Porta Santa Susanna. It is located on the west side of the city in the homonymous district and owes its name to the Church of Santa Susanna, now the Crypt of San Francesco al Prato. The gate was built around the XIV Century and dominates a road that, in Middle Ages, was an important artery that connected Perugia with Tuscany and Lake Trasimeno whose waters probably inspired the blue in the crest.

By proceeding North along the Medieval Wall, after the neighbourhood of Elce and the Universities, you will find the Gate of Sant’Angelo, named after the ancient church of San Michele Arcangelo that also inspires the two wings and the sword of the crest on a red background that symbolises fire.

The arch is very majestic and imposing. It is the biggest Medieval gate in the city. It was built in three different periods, each time with different materials. The base was built using sandstone in 1326. The second layer was built in limestone by the will of the Abbot of Montemaggiore around the end of the XIV Century. The third and final layer was built in masonry by Fioravanti between 1416 and 1424, upon commission of Braccio Fortebraccio who wanted to turn it into a bridgehouse with embrasures, trap doors, or machicolations.

It was restored in the 1990’s and had been the seat of the City Wall Museum (Museo delle Mura Urbiche) until 2016, it currently hosts  “Musica, un’esperienza tutta da sentire” (an educational course in music).

Keep walking along the Medieval wall moving east and you will soon find the Arch of Sperandio. A small entrance to the city also from the Middle Ages with a Gothic inscription above the arch. It owes its name to the nearby female monastery which was in turn named after a writing above its door “Spera in Deo 1696” which is still visible.

Now follow the perfectly preserved wall towards South and you will get to Porta del Bulagaio, built in 1756 and restored in 2013. The origin of the name is not clear, but it refers to a word that in the local dialect means “chaos/confusion”.

Now let’s walk down Corso Bersaglieri, at the end of it you will find the Gate of Sant’Antonio, also wanted by the Abbot of Monmaggiore in 1374 as an extremity of the Papal Fortress of Porta Sole. The plate on the arch reminds that this is the gate the Bersaglieri who freed the city from Papal rule went through. This event also gave the name to the street that stretches from the arch: Corso Bersaglieri. Its parallel road leads to Porta Pesa or Arco dei Tei. Also this gate belongs in the district of Sant’Antonio and, to this day, it represents an important entrance to the city. Built in the XIII Century as a pointed arch, it was named after an ancient noble family who lived nearby. Although today its is mostly known by the name Porta Pesa (Gate of the Scale) due to the public scale that used to sit next to it.

The tour goes on up to Porta Santa Margherita, also in this case named after the nearby Benedictine Female Monastery. On the right side of the gate there is a bastion from an ancient XVI Century fortress.

Further southwards, along Corso Cavour‘s parallel street, we get to Porta San Girolamo, near Cinema Zenith which was a former Franciscan Convent. It was erected in the XV Century and then rebuilt at the end of the XVI by the will of Cardinal Alessandro Riario, (from whom the gate gets its alternative name: Porta Alessandrina) during the reign of Gregory XIII, as stated by the inscription. Today it is also known for being the starting point of the famous Peace Walk.

We reach the south of the city where we find the Arch of Braccio and the Gate of San Costanzo. The first was built in 1250 and was an important city gate with two bastions.  Its name is dedicated to the Perugian warlord Braccio Fortebracci, who used to train his troops in the surroundings. Today the arch is encased in the complex of the Monastery of San Pietro and, being no longer in use, it was replaced by the Gate of San Costanzo. This gate was built by the will of Benedictin Monks in 1587, but only finished at a second time when the Arch of Braccio was dismissed. It was never loved by the people, since it had repeatedly served as an entrance for foreign invaders or the troops of local oppressors (the Pope’s Army often marched through the gate to defend the Papal rule at the expense of the people of Perugia)

Now head towards Borgo XX Giugno, at the beginning of Corso Cavuor to reach Porta San Pietro. This vital access point to the city rises majestically between the two most beautiful streets of Perugia. It was built in different periods. The facade that looks at the old town dates back to the XIV Century, in a recess we can see a painting of Madonna del Rosario with Saints Francis and Domenico, while the newest part was built towards the end of the XV Century by Agostino di Duccio and Polidoro di Stefano, in a style reminiscent of the “Arch of Triumph”, with two lateral towers that reinforce the structure.

Further North, along the Medieval Walls, sits the Gate of Santa Croce or Gate of the three Arches.  Also in this case, it takes its name from the nearby Church of San Giuseppe, once Church of Santa Croce. The gate was renovated in 1857.

Not far from here, towards the old town the is Arco dei Funari. Built in the XIII Century. The name “Funari” means rope-makers and was an homage to the trade practiced in the workshops nearby.

Going wast from Via Luigi Masi, along the old wall that is no longer visible here, you will find Porta Crucia, also known as Porta Eburnea Nuova (the New Ivory Door).The arch dates back to the XIII Century, but the one we see today is a reconstruction built during the XVI Century. The material is the same as the Etruscan walls, travertine, together with red bricks. The plate on top commemorates the Papal Governor Antonio Santacroce who commissioned the gate. This gate was mainly used to transport the fish coming from Lake Trasimeno into the city, this is why the street that goes through it is called Via del Pesce, “Fish Street” in Italian.

The last gate on the final segment of the wall is Porta di San Giacomo. A small pointed arch built in the XIII Century and named after the nearby Church of San Giacomo.

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