Historical centre, San Marino
The historic center of San Marino and Mount Titano cover 55 hectares. The historic part of the city dates from the 13th century, the time in which the republic was founded as a city-state.
The center of San Marino home fortified towers, walls, gates and bastions. The historical center still inhabited and has retained all institutional functions. Was because San Marino is located on the top of Mount Titano, unaffected by urban transformations.
San Marino City or Citta di San Marino, the capital of the Italian enclave of San Marino. It is a high altitude city with a special appearance. San Marino City is one of the oldest cities in Europe and there you'll find rare historical sites.
In the historical center the Basilica di San Marino originaly in the 4. century, todays church from 1838, next to it the Chiesa di San Pietro from about 600, the altar from 1689, and not far the Palazzo pubblico the town hall of the City of San Marino as well as its official Government Building.
“San Marino gazed down on this eventful Fifteenth Century as a chess-board in the game of history.”
— from “Two Quaint Republics, Andorra and San Marino” by Virginia Wales Johnson
Just within the gates of the First Tower, La Guaita, sits a stone chapel dedicated to St. Barbara.
Inside it is quite peaceful and could be otherwise overlooked.
“Viva Giangi! Viva San Marino! Viva la Repubblica!”
— Citizens of San Marino
LOYAL CITIZENS In October 1739, Giulio Cardinal Alberoni, Papal Legate in Rimini, crossed the border into San Marino. The cardinal tried to extend papal authority into the tiny, independent country. San Marino’s authorities blocked his attempt. Alfonso Giangi, a Captains-Regent in 1739-1740, declared, “I have sworn fidelity to the Republic of San Marino. I confirm this oath.” When his fellow Sammarinese heard his affirmation, they shouted their enthusiastic approval with the response above.
There was great pomp on display during our visit, with members of the Guard of the Rock and the Guard of the Council Great and General out in force.
Guardia di Rocca, the Guard of the Rock, a front-line military unit in San Marino’s armed forces, also carry out day-to-day law enforcement duties. In their role as Fortress Guards, they are responsible for protecting Palazzo Pubblico (see von.otter’s San Marino Thing-to-Do Tip for added information on Palazzo Pubblico). Each time a dignitary passed through the door the guard on duty stomped his feet on the small wooden platform. Love those spats!
The coat-of-arms of San Marino can be seen on the door next to the guard.
“In the early years of the fourth century, when the imperial power of Rome continued its persecutions of Christianity, some of the believers in the new religion braved their torments, while others, like Hilary and Jerome, concealed the observance of their worship. San Marino owes its origin to the latter class. Under the reign of the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, at the time when the tenth persecution stained Rome with blood, a poor stone-cutter from Dalmatia, named Marinus, converted to the new faith, and exposed by the purity of his life and habits to the hatred of the pagan executioners, sought refuge upon Mount Titanus. There in the solitude of its summit he founded the first Christian hermitage.”
— from “The Republic of San Marino” 1880 by Carlo Bruc, duca di Busignano
Facing Piazza della Libertà and at Miss Liberty’s back is Palazzo Pubblico, the Government Building, built between 1884 and 1894; it stands on the site of the 14th century Domus Magna Comunis. Palazzo Pubblico was designed in the austere style of 14th century buildings of Italian city-states by Frencesco Azzurri, a Roman architect. Official state ceremonies are staged here; it is the seat of the Republic’s administration.
San Marino’s principal administrative groups hold their meetings at Palazzo Pubblico, including the Captains Regent, the Grand and General Council, the Council of XII, and the Congress of State.
To meet today’s strict safety standards, Palazzo Pubblico underwent an extensive renovation process under the guidance of Gae Aulenti; it was completed on 30.September.1996
“Tomorrow we are going to the famous Republic of San Marino, thirteen kilometres from here. It is the oldest republic in Europe, and the smallest in the world, so I am most desirous of seeing its quaint capital. Senator Frye told me that he had helped to arrange a treaty with this republic, and asked me the last time I saw him in Washington if I had ever been there. I will write you all about it in a day or so. Much love to all at home.”
— from “Italian Castles and Country Seats” 1911 by Tryphosa Bates Batcheller (1876-1952)
On each of Monte Titano’s three peaks is one of the three towers of San Marino. These three towers, topped by feathers combined with the Latin assertion Libertas, form the country’s coat of arms.
The coat-of-arms appears everywhere, in many forms, including a tile mosaic (see photo #2) for sale in one of San Marino’s many souvenir shops. As well as an embroidered version (see photo #1) for sale in an antique shop.
“These towers crown San Marino, one of the smallest and most famous republics in Europe.”
— from “Two Quaint Republics: Andorra and San Marino” 1913 by Virginia W. Johnson (1849-1916)
CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT Stylized versions of those three towers crown the head of Miss Liberty, the white marble figure at the center of Piazza della Libertà. Presented to the Republic in 1876 by Ottilie Heyroth Wagener (see photo #5), Miss Liberty is the work of Stefano Galletti.
Mrs. Wagener was the widow of San Marino’s former minister in Paris. For the gift of Miss Liberty and for her husband’s diplomatic efforts, this micronation conferred upon Mrs. Wagener the high-sounding title of Duchess of Acquaviva, a hamlet just outside the capital of San Marino, called San Marino.
“Soldiers! — We have arrived upon a land of refuge, and we owe an irreproachable conduct to our generous hosts. It will secure for us the respect that misfortune deserves. From this time I release my companions in arms from all obligations, leaving them free to return to private life; but I would remind them that it is better to die than to live slaves of a foreigner. Garibaldi.”
— the Order of Disbandment issued by Giuseppe Garibaldi on 31.July.1849, following his defeat at the hands of the French army at Rome, 3.July.1849, and his fleeing to San Marino with a handful of men
Everywhere in Italy monument statues to Garibaldi can be found. In San Marino it is no different. The tiny independent nation gave the freedom-fighting Garibaldi refuge.
This white marble bust can be found down the hill from Piazza della Libertà.
“One part of the territory of the republic being placed under the episcopal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rimini, and the other under that of the Bishop of Montefeltro, the cathedral of San Marino is administered by an archpriest, who has the title of auditorbishop. In the state there are seven parishes and four convents, two of which are in the city. They are the Conventuals, the Capucines, the Brothers of Mary, and the Clarissas. The young girls of good families can receive a finished education among the nuns of Saint Clara.”
— from “The Republic of San Marino” 1880 by Carlo Bruc, duca di Busignano
The Basilica is San Marino’s most revered church because it conserves the relics of St. Marino. This is a very handsome church interior. The orderly NeoClassical style is clean, leading a peaceful feeling throughout.
To the right of the main altar is a 1602 reliquary in silver and gold. It holds the skull of St. Marinus (see photo #5). In 1982 Pope John Paul II paid homage to the relics of Our Saint.
A white marble sculpture of St. Marinus (see photos #3 and #4) by Giulio Tadolini, a pupil of the great Neo-Classical master sculptor Antonio Canova, stands at the center of the altar.
“Divo Marino Patrono Et Libertatis Avctore Sen. P. Q."
— The Inscription Below the Pediment of the Cathedral of San Marino
ETCHED IN STONE This Latin phrase translates as “St. Marinus, father of the country, the bearer of freedom for the Senate and the People.”
The Basilica of San Marino, in the NeoClassical style, replaced a fifth-century church that had been on the same spot. This church had been one of the first built in San Marino, and was designed in a pre-Romanesque style, examples of which are rare.
The basilica was finished in 1838 at a total cost of 40,150 scudi. On 21.July.1926 Pope Pius XI elevated the church to the rank of a minor basilica.
The State museum is housed inside the Pergami-Beluzzi Palace. It is a restored building constructed in the 16th century. Here you can see lots of archaeological findings; various paintings and a collection of sacral art taken from a monastery. Moreover here you can find several items as ceramics and icons.
The Town Hall of San Marino is located in Palazzo Pubblico and is built on the site of the old 16th-century palace.
You can go inside (though we didn't have time rushing for the last bus), and you’ll find the Council Hall, the Hall of the Great Council, a mezzanine floor and the Scrutiny Room.
Built in early nineteenth century on the foundations of the existing Romanesque Pieve. Full of valuable paintings and statues. The statue of San Marino is the work of Adam, favorite pupil of Canova, the main altar with the urn contains the relics of the saint.
San Marino is the capital of a tiny country and is situated 750m above the sea level, on the south-western side of Mount Titano.
It houses several historic monuments, such as the 14th-century St. Francis Gate, the Saint's Church, dedicated to the founder of the city, St Peter’s Church, the Government House, the work of local builders, and the Valloni Palace that houses the Town Library with more than 40000 books and the State Archives, with the valuable documents that tell the history of this unusual country.
More on my Historical centre page.
Do you remember the "Asterix" comics where they talk about a small village in Gaul which was no occupied by the romans? In San Marino, there's one small area which is not occupied by the masses of tourists. Although there are soma places worth to see (Museum of the Emigrants, monastery), almost no souvernir shops are there. At the time I was therre, it was even quiet! You will find this "paradise" in the northwestern corner, somewhere between Piazzale Genga and the Cava dei Balestrieri. Walk around the old, narrow streets and get an idea of a more authentic old San Marino.