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The Palmanova Star Fort

Palmanova is a town and comune built during the late Renaissance by the former Venetian Republic in Northeast Italy.

The Venetian Republic (traditionally known as La Serenissima) was a sovereign state centred on Venice. The Republic came into a series of conflicts with the expanding Ottoman Empire, resulting in the construction of Palmanova to provide protection on the eastern frontier as a Venetian military station.

Palmanova was founded in 1593 to commemorate the victory of the Christian forces over the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. The town was designed by the Italian architect Vincenzo Scamozzi in the form of a nine-pointed star (known as a star fort) using the latest military innovations of the 16th century.

A moat surrounds Palmanova, reinforced with protruding walls and ramparts, whilst access to the town was via three guarded entry gates. The interior has concentric peaks with radiating streets called Sforzinda, following a concept designed by the 15th century architect Antonio di Pietro Averlino.

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Sforzinda imposed a geometrical harmony that followed the idea of beauty reinforcing the wellness of a society, where each inhabitant would have an equal proportion of land and responsibility within the nucleus of the town.

Palmanova was supposed to be inhabited by self-sustaining merchants, craftsmen, and farmers. However, authorities struggled to persuade Venetians to settle in the new town, eventually pardoning criminals with the offer of free building lots if they agreed to settle within the vacant walls.

A second phase of construction took place in the 17th century and 19th century, resulting in Palmanova being developed into a major fortress with 9 ravelins, 9 bastions, 9 lunettes, and 18 cavaliers. In 1815 the town came under Austrian rule until 1866, when it was annexed to Italy together with Veneto and the western Friuli.

 

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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