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The Walls of Lucca

The Walls of Lucca

The walls of Lucca are the second largest example in Europe of walls built according to the principles of modern fortification that has been preserved completely intact in a large city. Nicosia, capital of Cyprus, holds the record with a wall of 4.5 km with 11 bastions and three gates.

The current walls of Lucca, exactly 4 km long and 223 meters long, is the result of the last reconstruction campaign, which began in May 7, 1504 and ended only a century and a half later, in 1648. The works also took place in second half of the seventeenth century, with structural updates based on new knowledge and construction techniques. Never used for defensive purposes, the modern structure is divided into 12 curtains and 11 bulwarks. These are seen as a strong sign of cultural identity and as a container for the historical memory of the territory.

The walls were also designed as a deterrent. In particular, the Republic of Lucca feared expansionist ambitions before Florence and, subsequently, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. However, there never was a real open war against the Grand Duchy. There were conflicts with the Duchy of Modena (16th and 17th centuries), but exclusively in Garfagnana, so Lucca never had to undergo any siege. The only occasion in which the walls were put to the test was during the disastrous flood of the Serchio in 18 November 1812. The doors were bolted and with the help of mattresses and straw mattress a relative water tightness was guaranteed in the center of Lucca . The same Elisa Bonaparte, Princess of Lucca and Piombino, to get into the city was made to hoist with a sort of balance to not open the doors bolted to the fury of the waters.

The structure was converted into a pedestrian promenade by Maria Luisa di Borbone-Spain (in charge from 1815 to 1824), in order to play the role of a large public park, above all thanks to its length of over 4 kilometers. The new use of the walls also affected the external spaces in front, which were converted into huge lawns. The path above the walls is currently used for walking and physical activity, but in the summer it is also a natural stage for shows and events.

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