Historical centre, San Marino
The archer's cave is a place where small events take place, mostly with some medieval background. At the time I was there, it was empty with only the tribunes for spectators being there. For me, it was just an interesting looking place, but I don't know anything about a possible historical background. It would be nice, if someone can tell me more about this structure.
On many places in San Marino's old town, there are old parts of defense structures. Some are well kept and opened for public like Torre Guaita, but others have remained unchanged for centuries. Many of these can be seen at the eastern part of the town, close to the towers. You can walk on some of them, but some parts do not look safe and should be avoided. Close to Palazzo Pubblico, there is also an old watchtower which has not been touched for centuries. That one is easily accesible via a couple of steps.
The small church of San Pietro is built around a cave, where St. Marino, the patron saint of San Marino, found his first refugium while being persecuted as a christ. Many of his followers joined him and after the persecutions ended, Marinus was given the Monte Titano where he founded a christian community. This legend, today seen as true, was the beginning of the Republic of San Marino. Any if everything of these old stories is true, then this place can be also seen as the birthplace of San Marino.
The Basilica of San Marino is the main church of the state and was built in 1836 in neoclassical style. It stands on the place of a former romanesque church.from the 12th century. An adjacent bell tower, dating from the 7th century, still survives today. The main altar of this basilica contains the remains of the state’s patron saint, St. Marinus. Don’t miss to visit the neighbouring church of St. Peter, if you would like to found out some more about the saint.
This simple, but beautiful renaissance church was built in 1549. Its history began 6 years later, when the inhabitants of San Marino defended their town against an attacking troop on June 4th 1543. In honour to that, it was decided to build a church which was dedicated to St. Quirinus (4th of June is his day in the calendar of saints).
In 1849, the church became the temporary quarter of Guiseppe Garibaldi during the wars that led to the formation of modern Italy. It was from this place that Garibaldi sent the order to his last troops in Rome to capitulate.
Nowadays, the church is often called "Chiesa dei Cappuccini" as it is kept by the Order of Capuchin Friars.
Built in 1894 on the remains of a medieval building, the Palazzo Pubblico is the place for state ceremonies and similar official events. It remains the see of most governmental instituations with the only larger exception being the congress in a modern building to the southwest. The neogothic style of the building makes it somehow look like a medeival castle. Some rooms in the building can be visited, most of them were restored back to its 19th century style after a renovation of the building in 1996.
A popular event is the changing of the guards which takes place every hour in front of the building. Piazza della Libertá (liberty Square) is the main square very popular with tourists. On most times, there is something going on there. At the time I was there, Ferrari was presenting a Formula 1 car for the upcoming Grand Prix of San Marino (which takes place in Imola, Italy).
The basilica dates from 1826 using the designs of an architect from Bologna called Antonio Serra. It sites on the site of the old parish church that was demolished to make way for the new one. The bell tower dates back to the 7th century. The high altar holds an urn containing the remains of Saint San Marino.
This Neo-gothic palace was built in 1894 by architect Francesco Azzurri on the foundations of the original Romanesque Parva Domus Communis which was probably built at the end of the 14th century. The building, where official State ceremonies take place, is the seat of the Republic’s main institutional and administrative bodies: the Captains Regent, the Great and General Council, the Council of the XII, the Congress of State.
Open: From 20 March to 20 September: 8.00am – 8.00pm From 21 September to 19 March: 8.50am – 5.00pm
Admission: Adults € 3,00
Every year during the five "Medieval days", this place called Cava dei Balestrieri (balestriere in italian means man that is able to use a cross-bow), becomes one of the main attractions in San Marino. There begins the " Grande Palio della Balestra" that hosts the challenge between the balestrieri and the knights of Arbe, a famous medieval battle with the inhabitants of San Marino fighted against the invader army of Arbe, leaded by Malatesta.
After entering the door of San Francesco this is the thing you have to do: a long walking! Unfortunately the way to Palazzo Pubblico and Piazza della Libertà is hard, becuase of the slope of the street and also the fact that is completely made with disconnected cobbles..
Along the way there are many little café and shops where you can stop to take a breath; you have to suffer a bit before enjoying the beautiful panorama from Piazza della Libertà.
This picture shows better the San Francesco's door. As you can see it is not a big gate, and in fact everything in San Marino seems to be little to my eyes ;-). This picture shows two of my three travel-mate to San Marino, starting their long walking to the top! I remember that after entering the gate I realized how different was the town before and after the entrance; before you can only imagine the medioeval atmosphere, after you will find a world where the time stopped years ago, that means no cars for example!!
On your way to the top of the hill where stands the Rocca, you will pass the main gate to the centre Main acces to the historical centre, called San Francesco door. This door represents an ancient guard-post and it was built in 1361. From here you start the visit into the down part of the city.
At the entrance of Palazzo Pubblico stands a member of La Guardia della Rocca, the guardian of the Rocca, that protects it since the middle of the 18th centuries.
I don't like to take pictures to the "men at work", I think is embarassing for who is doing his job to be disturbed by a tourist! In San marino instead I found a polite guard that was completely at his leisure when people takes a picture of him, so I did it too. His uniform is very nice to see and with bright colours, resembling, in my opinion, to the Monte Carlo's guards uniforms.
After arriving in a parking area your visit to San Marino will start and you will take a long breath...why? Because you have to walk untill the top and I can assure you that is not so easy! Anyway walking is the only good way to discover the Rocca of this Republic. Take a pull over if you see some fog (it happens to me as you can see in this picture), the temperature goes down slowly in this case and it may rains in few minutes. The best period to visit the Rocca is springtime untill june; after you could find high humidity and hot weather. Late autumn is also a good period of time to travel around there.
There are many smal lanes. And many tourists. They walk and make shoping in many of little shops with souvenirs, juwelery, alcohol... The prices are really profitable.
And there are of cours many nice restaurants and cafes.
I like very much the little gardens on the roofs.