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Article and photos by Isabella Dalla Vecchia -
Traduction by Lorenzo Gobbo -

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Palmanova it's unique because its plant is geometrically perfect, to such an extent as to be almost non-human in top view. It's shaped like a nine pointed star.

It is surrounded by walls and ditches that for about 7 kilometers forms this armonius setting. Six streets converge toward the center, faced with an almost identical on 360°. It's the city on numerology, having:

1. 9 of the fortress ramparts and circle of walls
2. 3 doors of revolts acces to Cividale, Aquileia and Udine
3. 18 radial streets wich 6 are the main
4. hexagonal central square

Basically it is built on the number 3.


When someone had the idea of building a city unique in its kind, even before it was built, it was decided to entrust the project to the absolute genius, Leonardo Da Vinci, but he refused the job because he was engaged in Milan. Historical records say that in any case he made a visit to the place and, who knows, maybe even such his advice gave rise to the entire complex. We don't know id in deed he also drawn only a draft, perhaps hidden and then reused without his name.
October 7th 1593 was laid the first stone on the desing by Giulio Savorgnan and Marcantonio Martinengo. Its edification endertook a lot of energy in addition to harmony and iriginality it has also to be functional, as one of its main puroposes was to defend the area from the Turkish invasions.

The ancient village on Palmata was pressing into Palma La Nuova. It was built by the will of the Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia who said the she finished exclusively for military purpose. But its shape it's too original to be only this the reason.
It was decided to implement it because of the Turks who, afetr seven raids without much effort in Friuli, put the Region to its knees.

The other cities were too old and skinned fromt the difensive point of view, it was necessary something innovative, a big "container" fortress pfor people in need. Among the architects we have Scamozzi who designed, for the Gonzaga family, the fortress of SABBIONETA (MN), an innovative building for its time.


Very interesting it's PIAZZA D'ARMI o PIAZZA GRANDE, the central square, perfectly hexagonal. In the middle of the square there's a base with 6 sides on Istrian Stone from where raises a flag. At the entrance of every road that branches off from here there are 11 statues representing the General Providers of the fortress. We don't know the individual events that tie each character but it is believed were carved in gratitude of some facts.

All along the perimeter of the square passes a channel full of water. This has a strongs sympolic value because it enhances the center of Palmanova as a pure area, safe because it is surrounded by water. Be circumscribed by that nobile liquid meant fending off a fire, an explosive fire, corruption and evil of the world around.

Here could be a dual reading.
While they used the walls to defend the city against concrete attack of ruthless armies, on the other side they used a "wall of water" as a defense against the dark and the evil forces, because it, symbolizing life, can reject the death.

In addition to stand out as a great fortress, Palmanova was also the name of a place of salvation, if it was designed to defend the course, why not, it could also defend the soul.

Here the 6 sentences on the stand:

"Non fare al tuo prossimo cosa che tu non vorresti fatta a te"
"Popolo ecco qui costituito il tuo sovrano"
"Chi desidera il ritorno della antica schiavitù resti vittima sotto quest'albero"
"Guerra contro i tiranni e pace alli popoli"
"La fratellanza è la principale conseguenza dell'eguaglianza della libertà e della giustizia"
"Popolo godi dei tuoi diritti ma non dimenticare mai i tuoi doveri"


It has been realized in this way also to be a bulwalk of the renaissance concept of the ideal city.
Its date of foundation is 7 October 1593 that is a reminiscent of two important dates: the feast of S. Giustina the patron of the city and the anniversary of the Victory of Lepanto over the Turks the year 1571 and since has been wanted by the Venetian Republic as a bulwalk of defense against the Turks, this date is symbolic.
Then in 1797, when Venice fall, it came under Napoleonic rule, then to Austria and then to the Kingdom of Italy in 1886.
In 1960 the entire city was declared "National Monument".


A curiosity: to climb to the top floor of the three main gates take along some side ramps, so if the enemy had managed to cross the revenue would end in a courtyard close by some ramps directly trapped at the mercy of the besieged that wew at the top waiting for them.

Another feature of the city was its "invisibility". It was built lower than the horizon line so as to disappear in the eyev of the enemies that would not have been able to define it completely. having many unknown corners. Aereal reconaissance did not exist and the hills and the mountains were far. In additionthe outer walls were covered by earth and vegetation that even camouflaged the entire village. It was celebrated as the most unconquerable city across Europe. For this reason ther city inspired oother european forts: Pamplona and Jaca in Spain, Vauban in Frace, Neuf Brisach in Alsace, Fredericis in Germany and many others.


Palmanova also had a heart, did not have to accommodate only military, but it was designed to hold up to 20,000 inhabitants, families willing to live within it. But it was unsuccessful because no one ever went to live.

What was the reason? Probably he scared the idea of ​​raising children in an environment aimed at war. Or it scared the city itself, so regular, so perfect and equal in every corner,
probably cold, supernatural, otherworldly.

If this fascinates us that we visit, once it could scare. Probably in this perfect star people felt trapped. This feeling was so strong that Venice itself to "fill in" the city sent the prisoners to live. Palmanova was never under siege, because it came under Napoleonic rule in total peace and abandonment.Only city in Europe to maintain an unparalleled charm, a real star of heavens on earth. Cos' like us from the earth we can see the stars in the sky, eventually even the sky can see a beautiful star on earth.



There are two legends about the foundation of Palmanova. The first tells of a sheperd named Camotio who has fallen asleep in the place where later arose the city, ran from her friends and swore that he had seen a vision of a great star-shaped fortress that sarebbb sort at that point. They took him for drunk and mocked him.

Another legend has it that fifteen providers, during probing of the ground, they were hit by a storm and found shelter in a chapel of that desolate place. While they were waiting for the rain to cease, a cobweb fell from the ceiling going to position perfectly in front of them. And here were the lighting for the project of the future fortress.
Nothing is so perfect that is not born by taking inspiration from nature and who, like a spider, he would have known better to build a place of defense! They all agreed, ran to the project and how small spiders began weaving the map.


Article and photos by Isabella Dalla Vecchia -
Traduction by Lorenzo Gobbo - -