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The "Rocca Maggiore" Fortress in Assisi

The first historical mention of this fortified structure dates back to 1173-1174, when Christian, Archbishop of Mainz, sacked Assisi on behalf of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. In 1198, a popular uprising tore down the Fortress.

Tradition says that on this occasion the townspeople kicked out Conrad I von Urslingen, the Duke of Spoleto, together with little Frederick II, who at the time was only four years old. What remained of the fortress remained neglected until 1362, when Cardinal Gil Albornoz decided to rebuild it over the ancient German fortifications.

The imposing and austere Rocca Maggiore fortress overlooks the historical city center of Assisi, the Tescio River's narrow ravine below and a large part of the Umbrian Valley, which extends from Perugia to Spoleto. Visiting its structure provides the opportunity to observe a significant example of well preserved 14th century military architecture, while enjoying one of the most evocative panoramas of Umbria.
The itinerary of the Tour brings the visitor inside the Albornoz style fortress—with its square plan—that consists of a Keep and a Polygonal Tower and has been expanded over the centuries with a surrounding system of walls and towers

At the time of the Signoria of Biordo Michelotti—between 1394 and 1398—several maintenance and restoration actions were carried out; his coat of arms is sculpted in various parts of the fortress.

In 1458, on its northwest side, a Polygonal Tower was raised by order of Jacopo Piccinino. The next year, Pope Pius II ordered the construction of the Corridor that connected the Rocca with the Polygonal Tower. The entrance door near the Keep was opened in 1484; three coats of arms are sculpted above it, the one at the center is that of Pope Sixtus IV. At the end of the 15th century the Rocca became the setting of vicious fights between the Fiumi and Nepis families.
In 1501, first Cesare Borgia and later his sister Lucrezia lived there. The last important construction work on the Rocca fortress was carried out in 1535, when Pope Paul III ordered the building of the Circular Bastion. After its primary defensive function, the Rocca Maggiore became a residence of the castellans, custodians charged with the security of the surrounding territory. It later became a prison and then a warehouse.

Appreciated again, and enhanced by restoration work, the Rocca can be visited today.
The entrance door opens near the 16th century bastion; inside there is a courtyard, all paved with bricks of the 14th century; on the side there is the donjon, where the service rooms were located. The keep was the house of the castellan; there are five rooms inside it—one above the other—that are reached by a spiral staircase.

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