Rocca Paolina

Castle and Gallery in Perugia

Rocca Paolina A Perugia
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Andrea Biagi

The Rocca Paolina, built in 1540 by Pope Paul III after Perugia’s defeat in the Salt War, is a striking medieval fortress now serving as an evocative underground maze. This labyrinth of passageways includes portions of ancient towers, massive chambers, vaulted ceilings, and even remnants of a communal bread-baking oven. The area once belonged to the powerful Baglioni family, and one of its entrances, Porta Marzia (Mars Gate), incorporates the upper part of a third-century BC Etruscan gate.

Historical Significance: Originally constructed to demonstrate papal authority, the Rocca Paolina stands as a reminder of Perugia’s turbulent history. The fortress replaced a neighborhood previously controlled by the Baglioni family, showcasing the dramatic shifts in power during that era.

Modern Use: Today, the Rocca Paolina seamlessly integrates into modern-day Perugia. It is frequently used as a commuting route to the bus station and hosts various cultural events throughout the year, including a popular Christmas market in December.

Centro Espositivo della Rocca Paolina (C.E.R.P.): Inside the Rocca Paolina, near the escalators leading to Piazza Italia, is the Centro Espositivo della Rocca Paolina (C.E.R.P.). This exhibition space is dedicated to art exhibits, which are open to the public and free to enter, adding to the fortress’s cultural significance.

Exploring the Fortress: Visitors can explore the fortress’s intricate network of underground passageways, encountering the preserved sections of ancient structures and experiencing the atmospheric remnants of medieval Perugia.

The Rocca Paolina not only offers a fascinating glimpse into Perugia’s past but also serves as a vibrant part of the city’s cultural and daily life. Its blend of historical intrigue and modern utility makes it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Perugia.

The Rocca Paolina appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Perugia!

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Visiting Rocca Paolina


Rocca: Daily 6:15am-2:00am

C.E.R.P: Tuesday to Sunday 11:00 – 19:00

Address: Rocca Paolina, Piazza Italia, Perugia, Province of Perugia, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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