Venetian Works of Defence
Venetian Works of Defence Between 16th and 17th centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar are 6 fortifications along the Adriatic Sea that date from the historic Republic of Venice.
They represent the evolution of Venetian military solutions and their innovations in architecture and methods. In the whole, they created a defensive line that guarded the Venetian commercial network.
Map of Venetian Works of Defence
- ●● Cultural
Visit November 2016
In Zadar, the Venetian TWHS is a separate area from the Roman TWHS: these walls, fortifications and related buildings are located on the fringes of the historical town. They were constructed in 1472 to separate (and better protect) Zadar’s peninsular (Roman) core from the mainland. The defence works are still very prominent, except ironically at the sea side where they were destroyed and the Roman Forum was brought to light, the focal point of Zadar's other nomination.
The various gates around town have small parking lots, where I was able to find a space and explore the town on foot from there. The most interesting area is the Grimani bastion (now a night club) and the adjoining citadel tower of the Great Captain. When you go to the outer side here, you’ll be in front of without a doubt the major point of interest of this defence system: the Landward Gate or “Porta Terraferma”. It was designed by the famous Venetian architect M. Sanmicheli. The overall setting reminded me a lot of Corfu.
Zadar already does attract its fair share of tourists and even in November when I visited, there were numerous other visitors. The town this year already has secured one honorary title: the town hall featured a large banner displaying “Zadar elected European Best Destination 2016”. The Michelin Green Guide for Croatia gives it 2 stars (worth a detour), which seems rather generous. I found it pleasant enough, but had seen all components of both TWHS ánd drank a cappucino on a terrace with the locals within 1.5 hour. Although it must be said that I was visiting on Sunday morning, so for example I wasn’t able to visit the interior of churches like the St. Donatus.
Ralf Regele Germany 17.07.17
I visited the two north italian sites in 2014. Luckily, they are close together and can be combined easily.
Bergamo is a very beautiful city by itself. The old city sits on top of a hill, with the city walls all around, lots of medieval towers in the middle and the alps in the background. The defense ring is quite prominent, with an impressive entrance ramp. Still, most visitors will spent more time in the streets of the old city with its various churches, towers, shops and restaurants. I have no clue if the defense works here are significant from the military point of view, but they at least provide a splendid sight, both from the outside and as a viewing platform. I can highly recommend a visit to Bergamo as a whole, ticking off the WHS is just the icing on the cake.
Peschiere del Garda on the other hand is rather unremarkable. Most tourists come here for the access to Lake Garda. The fortifications are easily accessible and can be viewed while walking around the village core. Without any special interest in military history however, they will not capture the attention for very long. On the positive side, Peschiere del Garda is located conveniently on the train line between the WHS cities Verona, Brecia and Bergamo, and the old core can be reached by walking from the train station without a problem. I spent two hours here before proceeding, and had lots of time to spare.
Visited May 2014
Importance 3/5 Beauty 3/5 Uniqueness 2/5 Environment 4/5 Experience 3/5
Tom Livesey United Kingdom 01.04.16
I'm with John on this - definitely a sleepy town. We visited in July 2015 on a whim after seeing it on roadsigns whilst killing time before our flight from Trieste to Bari. There was some debate in our car as to what Palmanova was (I was ignorant of its TWHS status): a fortified town or a shopping mall! We drove in to the centre and strolled about the piazza, stopping for coffee. It was blazing hot and there seemed hardly a sole out and about. The walls are impressive. I wish I'd attempted the perimeter walk, but I think if I had I would have passed out from sunstroke!
Els Slots The Netherlands 09.03.16
Palmanova features twice on Italy’s current Tentative List: on its own as Fortress Town of Palmanova, ánd as part of The Venetian Works of Defence. The latter is a transnational serial nomination of fortifications in Italy, Croatia and Montenegro, which is scheduled for WH listing in 2017. The bid strategy seems to be using the already inscribed Venice and Kotor as virtual 'bookends', to be able to pull along a string of minor sites between them such as Zadar and this small town of Palmanova.
The fortress town of Palmanova was built by the Venetian Republic in 1593, in the shape of a nine-pointed star. These kind of star fortifications were fashionable in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries primarily in response to the French invasion of the Italian peninsula. The French army was equipped with a new, more powerful cannon that was easily able to destroy traditional fortifications built in the Middle Ages. Palmanova certainly isn’t the only surviving star fortification: we have an ample connection for them already on this website. It is one of the early ones though.
Other reviewers have found it hard to spend more than 30 minutes here. But especially on a bright day I found that there is enough to see and do for a ‘proper visit’ of at least 2 hours:
During my short trip to northeastern Italy late February I arrived in Palmanova by direct bus from Aquileia, some 40 minutes south. I got off just after entering the city gate, and walked back to the ramparts. Information panels show the trails that have been created here for mountainbikers and (Nordic) walkers. I took the inner route, which would take 50 minutes to fully complete. It was a very hazy day unfortunately, only the silhouettes of the fortifications were visible. I walked one third of the trail, and then entered the town again via another gate. Passing any of the three city gates on foot is a small adventure, as the entrance is only wide enough for one car and the traffic flows steadily. So the local authorities have installed traffic lights especially for pedestrians to safely overcome this hurdle.
I had a look around town and ate a pannini for lunch in a typical neighbourhood café, before walking to the railway station for the return trip. The station lies outside of the third gate, and next to an open field where one of the nine star points of the fort can be seen well. This I found the most interesting of the 3 possible approaches into Palmanova.
The creation of Palmanova was a bit of a failure, historically speaking. It was built ex nihilo by the Venetians, as an ideal city that would be lovely to live in. Unfortunately no volunteer citizens came forward, so the Venetians “pardoned a number of prisoners in 1622 and gave them property in Palmanova”. And although being a fortress, Palmanova never saw a battle. Despite its apparently impenetrable defense, Palmanova was captured twice – first by Napolean and then back by the Kingdom of Italy.
Ian Cade England 17.08.12
Unknown to me, John S. below has written almost word for word my summary of this town. Though I probably wouldn’t use the word ‘boring’, more just ‘laid back’, though I was blessed with magnificent weather on my 30 minute stop en route to Aquileia.
The best way to view this town is if you are heading over on a plane (I landed at nearby Friuli Venezia Giulia Airport) which allows you to see the star shaped lay out, or you could just have a look on a satellite map.
The unique lay out means that it can be a touch disorientating as all the roads look the same as they radiate from the central square to the bulky town walls. I really enjoyed my espresso in the great café next to the Duomo whilst watching the fleet of vintage Vespa’s parading around the square, and after a quick climb of the fortifications I was off on my merry way.
It is a charming little place, that I can’t imagine getting inscribed on the World Heritage List on its own, but is certainly worth a brief stop for a coffee and a wander.
[Site 2: Experience 5]
This site is wonderful from an aerial perspective. But the town is a boring sleepy town without the mystery of Sabbioneta near Mantova. A worthy thirty-minute stop towards Aquilea.
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Full name: Venetian Works of Defence Between 16th and 17th centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar
Unesco ID: 1533
Criteria: 3 4
- 2017 - Inscribed
The site has 6 locations.
- Venetian Works of Defence: City Fortress of Palmanova
- Venetian Works of Defence: Defensive System of Zadar
- Venetian Works of Defence: Fortified city of Bergamo
- Venetian Works of Defence: Fortified city of Peschiera del Garda
- Venetian Works of Defence: Kotor
- Venetian Works of Defence: St. Nicholas, Sibenik
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