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Area:
  • 13,32 sq. km
Altitude:
  • 27 m a.s.l.
Population:
  • 5,344
Town Hall:
  • P. Grande, 1
  • 33057 - Palmanova (UD)
Neighbourhoods:
  • Ialmicco, Sottoselva
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The reasons that led to the foundation of Palmanova in 1593 are found in the strained relationships between the Republic of Venice and the Hapsburg Empire, which had long before deprived the Serenissima of the Gradisca fortress and did not hide its designs of expansion westwards; moreover, the Friuli plain did not have any military defence in case of emergency, as the Turkish invasions had painfully shown. Therefore, the idea of planning a settlement for twenty thousand people (though it never contained more than five or six thousand) must be attributed jointly to Vincenzo Scamozzi and Giulio Savorgnan, who, drawing from the best in military town planning and architecture, devised one of the most perfect examples of late Renaissance fortified cities. The city is shaped as a star with nine points, with a highly regular

network of concentric and radial streets all leading to the large central hexagon of Piazza Grande, which has been recently restored and embellished with the statues of the Provveditori Generali of Palmanova set on high pedestals level with the six streets converging here. The powerful defensive walls consisted in a first ring of walls (3 km in perimeter), made of barrages and bulwarks sheltered by a moat (37 m wide), to which a second ring of walls was added to update the city to withstand the modern siege techniques. Three gates were part of the original urban

plan devised by Scamozzi: Porta Aquileia (former Marittima), Porta Cividale (now housing the Military Historical Museum) and Porta Udine – preceded by the lithe structure of the aqueduct. The gates combine functionality aimed at control with typically Venetian formal elegance: watch towers, communication trenches and balustrades are all framed on the outside within scroll elements, inscriptions, rusticated ashlars, semicolumns, etc. The French occupation at the end of the 1700s left indelible traces also in the urban plan since Napoleon, who had chosen Palmanova as his headquarters, in order to withstand the increased cannon ranges, ordered another ring of walls to be built fitted with the so-called “lunette” (moon-shaped ramparts). New functional structures were built on Napoleon’s orders: powder magazines, blockhouses, storerooms for weapons, clothes, goods and lodgings for troops, all works that are well-preserved. In order to improve the strategic control of the plain, three villages near the city were pulled down (Ronchis, Palmada, San Lorenzo). The Treaty of Campoformido in 1797 marked a short-lived period of Austrian rule: in 1805 the star-shaped city became part of the Reign of Italy and it was on this occasion that the old name of Palma was changed to Palmanova. After the radiant Napoleonic era had come to an end, the city remained under Austrian rule for half a century before being definitively annexed to Italy in 1866 after the 3rd Independence War. The sumptuous Duomo of Santissimo Redentore (1603-1639) belongs to the original project and was probably devised by the fortifications office of the Serenissima. Its white façade, divided into three parts by two orders of columns, culminates in a majestic gable with St. Mark’s Lion in the central round panel, the symbol of

Venice’s military and political power more than religion. The wide interior is remarkable for its rich liturgical fittings, mainly dating to the late Baroque Age. Among the works of art it contains, a few must be mentioned: the “Pala delle Milizie” (the soldiers’ altarpiece) by Padovanino (1641) and a precious wooden statue of Virgin with Child attributed to Domenico da Tolmezzo (late 1400s). Some beautiful palaces fronting onto Piazza Grande are evidence of the most prosperous time of the city: the Palazzo dei Provveditori, now the Town Hall (1598-1610), the Palazzo della Tesoreria (palace of the Treasury, 1598), the Palazzo del Governatore delle armi (palace of the governor of arms, 1614), the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà (pawnbroker’s, 17th-19th centuries), Palazzo Trevisan, now housing the Civic Historical Museum, the Palazzo della Camera of Palma.

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