Towers and fortress of Cesenatico

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Pretoria Tower of Cesenatico

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During the repair and paving works of Ciceruacchio square in 2001, the old foundation of the Pretoria Tower of Cesenatico was unveiled.
The construction of the tower was completed in 1597, based on a drawing of Francesco Masini, painter and architect from Cesena, a representative of the Manierismo.

Required as the home of the Administrator of the Port, the tower had a strategic and defensive role and for its whole life it was the stage of important historical events.

At the moment of its construction, the point from which the tower rose at the beginning of the eastern pier, corresponded to the end of the built-up area. Its 20 meters of height were enough to offer a good point of observation, and to watch the coast in order to catch sight of pirates arriving, which during those times were a great threat for all the Adriatic cities.

The pirates were of Turkish origin who had settled in Algeria and other North African coasts. When the raids took place, between spring and summer, they moved to some of the Croatian islands and used very fast boats, with lateen sails and oars, called Fuste, and attacked ships and fishing boats. They would also disembark on mainland in order to pillage the inhabitants. They captured men, women and children and asked for ransom or took the prisoners to other countries to be sold as slaves.
To fight the piracy, which continued until the end of the first half of the 1800 (it was only completely erased when slavery laws were enforced) several steps were taken. In 1673 the Church built a defensive system with look-out towers watching from Gabicce to Cervia.
In Cesenatico however, the need for defence came almost a century earlier, and this tower from the 1500 is a proof of it.

Developed on a square plan of 13 meters each side and with three floors, the Pretoria Tower was also a small barracks and accommodated a military prison that probably was in charge of maintaining the public order.
The tower was equipped for defence: on the top of the construction, above the look-out windows, two canons were arranged, one towards the sea and the other towards the inland; besides, in case of danger, the chains were tightened to prevent the docking of pirate ships or ships suspected to spread an epidemic.

The description of the tower is given by old representations like the Veduta di Cesenatico (View of Cesenatico) by Sebastiano Sassi, an engraving from 1776.
The tower was square shaped and massive. It was placed on a solid talus base and the edges were reinforced by stone. The first and second floors had four windows on each side, and the third floor bore the openings for watching. The construction was finished with a low pyramidal roof.

On the ground floor, an external ramp led to the arched portal and internally there were an entrance hall, the kitchen and the place for the guard duty. The Administrator living quarters were distributed on the first and second floor and included also an archive and several paintings. Some fragments of ceramic objects were found during excavations. In 1809, during a clash with the English fleet, the tower was blown up by the cannons of the Royal Navy. There are still stains of soot on the walls that were found. 

A. Cocchi

Trad.: A. Sturmer


B. Ballerin, Rocca, torre e fortino del Cesenatico. in: Romagna arte e storia n. 49, 1997, Editrice Romagna arte e storia, Rimini 1997
F. Santucci, Cesenatico, da porto di Cesena a Comune Edizioni Il ponte vecchio, Cesena, 1995
D. Gnola, Storia di Cesenatico Edizioni Il ponte vecchio, Cesena, 2001
D. Gnola, Cesenatico nella storia Edizioni Il ponte vecchio Cesena, 2008
M. Marini Calvani (a cura di), Schede di Archeologia dell'Emilia-Romagna, Bologna 1995
B. Farfaneti, Cesenatico romana. Archeologia e territorio, Ravenna 2000
C. Dondi Il porto di Cesenatico lo pensÚ Leonardo?


Tags:Alessandra Cocchi, A. Sturmer, tower, architecture, tourism, .


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Pretoria Tower of Cesenatico detail by: Sebastiano Sassi. View of the Port of Cesenatico. Engraving 1776. Source: D. Gnola, Cesenatico nella storia. Edizioni: Il ponte vecchio Cesena, 2008

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