Porta Marzia

map thumbnail

Piazza Matteotti, 18 - Loggia dei Lanari - 06121 Perugia
The Marzia Door is inserted as blind arch in the masonry of the Paolina fortress, a majestic 16th century architectural work extended on the broad neighbourhood of the Landone hill, a southern relief on which Perugia rises.
It was the monumental door located at the southern extremity of the Etruscan town walls, in correspondence with the entrance in the town of the Amerina road, extended until Perugia around the half of the 3rd century B.C., in order to strengthen the relationships between the city and Rome.
An attractive architectural solution has been implemented by the big architect Antonio da Sangallo the Young who managed to preserve a monument of unparalleled historic and archaeological value, by setting the travertine pediment into the brick of the fortress, by turning it into a decorative element at the entrance of the fortress. From here the visitor will be able to access to the submerged city through the underground via Bagliona with its surviving medieval district, a point of greater spectacular suggestion. Finally recovered in 1965, the rooms are today used as exhibition space and seat of the Fortress’ museum.
The original door was destroyed when the Paolina Fortress was built (1540-43) and was partially re-assembled by Sangallo with the same orientation approximately 4 metres away, inserted as blind arch into the new masonry. Instead the door’s jambs have been kept in their original position, incorporated into an highly militarised access area to the fortress. The travertine arch, about 4.40 metres wide, is traced by ashlars arranged radially, framed with two pilasters which give support to a jutting frame that carries the inscription Colonia Vibia / Augusta Perusia, similar to the one that appears on the Etruscan arch. Between the arch and the frame there is a balustrade-shaped frieze overlooked by five figures separated by fluted pilasters surmounted by capitals with a “water leaves” pattern.
In the centre there is a male bust depicting Tinia/Jupiter accompanied by two characters that are traditionally identified with the Dioscuri. Recently it has been proposed to identify them with the Lares Praestites, the heroic ancestors that in the Etruscan-Italic and Roman tradition should precisely protect the town’s walls. Two equine protomes are depicted at the ends. Three hanging heads in peperino stone are located on the sides and above the arch. The Marzia Door didn’t have defensive purposes but it represented the monumental entrance to the town, equipped with decorations of guardians ideally pointing towards Rome, the new powerful ally to welcome pacifically.