Lucca's historical walls
City Walls in Lucca
Lucca’s historical walls, constructed between the mid-1600s and early 1800s, remain remarkably intact today, serving as a valuable cultural asset not only for the city but for the entire region. This current iteration is actually the fourth version, with the original walls built by the Romans in the 2nd century BCE, followed by a medieval version completed in 1270, and a third version resembling the present walls, started in the late 1500s.
As military technology advanced, the decision was made to fortify and enhance the walls, especially considering Florence’s dominion extending to Altopascio, just 15 km from Lucca. Renovations began in 1544, with the guidance of Italian and Flemish experts. The scale of the project was so immense that nearly 2,000 workers were required daily, with assistance sought from people in the surrounding countryside at least once a week.
The walls encompass 12 enceintes with ramparts, 11 bastions, and 6 gates (originally only 3), extending 4.2 km in circumference. Interestingly, they were hardly used for defensive purposes, except for one occasion that may surprise you. In 1812, when the River Serchio flooded, all the gates were closed and reinforced, successfully protecting the city of Lucca.
In 1815, when the Borbone family from Parma assumed control of the new Duchy of Lucca, Duchess Maria Luisa appointed the architect Lorenzo Nottolini (who also designed the renowned Piazza dell’Anfiteatro) to transform a portion of the walls into green spaces. This eventually evolved into a fully-fledged public park in the late 1800s. Today, the walls offer numerous spots for recreation and relaxation, particularly around the bastions and ramparts. They are equipped with benches, tables, drinking fountains, and children’s play areas, creating a delightful and inviting environment for both locals and visitors alike.
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