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you are here: Home Latium Circeo, Pontine Islands and Gulf of Gaeta Terracina

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Terracina

Description

Terracina is a municipality in the province of Latina, overlooking the Gulf of Gaeta, on one of the outcrops of Mount Sant'Angelo, at the mouth of the river Amaseno. Dominated by the Temple of Jupiter Anxur, from where it is possible to admire a splendid panorama over the Pontine islands and, during clear days, even the islands of Capri and Ischia are visible, the main city centre jealously guards the traces of its history and past. Founded by refugees from Sparta, according to the legends reported by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the city's name reveals it Indo-European or otherwise, Etruscan origins. A settlement of the Ausoni, in the VI century B.C., it was conquered by the Romans; later occupied by the Volsci, who gave the center the name of Anxur, it was regained by the Romans in 406 B.C. and became a colony in 329 B.C. In 312 B.C. Appius Claudius traced the lines of the Via Appia, through which opened commercial and military routes with the Campania region. The main center submitted major changes in its urban structure under the rule of Sillana (I century B.C.) and during the Imperial era. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the continuous barbarian invasions forced the inhabitants to defend themselves behind thick walls, between narrow alleyways with ramparts. In 1074 with Pope Gregory VII, the city became was proclaimed municipality. Between the XII and the XVI centuries the city was subject of alternated attempts of domination by several noble families of the Lazio area and the Kingdom of Naples, until in the XVI century the domain returned under the control of the Papal States. However, the expansion of the marshy areas and the spreading of epidemics of malaria, reduced to a minimum the local population. At the end of the XVIII century, under Pope Pius VI, the city submitted a new rebirth, thanks to a massive land reclamation project with the intent to build a fortified city to protect the borders of the Papal States.

Sites of Interest:
- the Forum Emiliano (today the Town Hall Square), located at the center of the upper town, where there are remains that evidence its Roman and Medieval origins. The square, large more than 3000 square meters, features a splendid example of a Roman pavement, already in use about 2000 years ago;
- the Temple of Jupiter Anxur on Mount Sant'Angelo, which is easily identifiable by a large criptoportico of twelve arches, 60 meters long. There are still traces of a porch, of the oracle in the rock, of several wells and cisterns, a fortified garrison to defend the Via Appia and a small temple (probably the residence of the priests) adapted in the Carolingian period into a Christian chapel dedicated to St. Michael the Archangel;
- the Cathedral of San Cesareo, overlooking the West side of Town Hall Square, which was built on the ruins of an ancient pagan temple. Built in Romanesque style, it was consecrated in 1074. The splendid terrace features a great mosaic, a floor of Cosmati, which are also the authors of the pulpit and the spiral column of the Easter candle, and the simple marble throne, which tradition attributes to Pope Urban II, elected Pope in Terracina in 1088, who enrolled the first Crusade. The Cathedral is flanked by a fine Romanesque Bell Tower;
- Palazzo Venditti, a XIII century Gothic building, which was the seat of the first city hall, accessible through an arched gateway between the cathedral and the main square;
- the remains of the Roman theater and auditorium;
- the remains of the original Roman paving of the Via Appia, discovered during the bombings of World War II;
- the Pisco Montano, an imposing cliff. 83 meters tall, cut by the Romans to allow the passage of the Via Appia along the Coast, avoiding the mountains. On the walls are still visible signs of the masons and scrolls that are inscribed with Roman measurements;
- the XII century Frumentaria Tower, a medieval wheat silos, which belonged to the family Rosa;
- the Church of San Domenico, of austere simplicity, was probably built between the XIII and XIV centuries;
- the Church of Purgatory, built in Baroque style on the remains of an existing religious building dedicated to St. Nicholas;
- the Convent of San Francesco, used until recently as a civic hospital, it was probably founded by the Saint of Assisi in the XIII century;
- the Church of the Holy Saviour, a Neoclassical style building, designed by Andrea Sarti in 1845. Inside is preserved a beautiful marble group of the Pietà, of the Art school of Canova;
- the remains of the ancient city walls, in which are clearly visible traces of the Etruscan, Roman and Volscian periods with additions and medieval battlements;
- the main gateway entrances to the city;
- the houses of the Sillano period, in which are still visible the "opus incertum" of the I century B.C.;
- the tower-houses and the houses in Gothic style;
- the Castle of the Frangipane (or Rocca Traversa), built on the remains of the Roman acropolis. Its dominant position allowed it to control both the coastal side and the mountain side;
- Palazzo Braschi;
- Palazzo della Bonifica (of the reclamation).

Map

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