Palmanova, known as Palme in Friulian, is a captivating town and municipality situated in the Udine region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, located in the northeast of Italy. The town serves as a remarkable example of a late Renaissance star fort, a creation of the Venetian Republic dating back to 1593. Its unique fortifications have earned it a prestigious spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list as part of the Venetian Works of Defence from the 16th to 17th centuries in 2017. Furthermore, Palmanova is a distinguished member of the “I Borghi più belli d’Italia” association, a designation celebrating the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Situated in the southeastern portion of the autonomous Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, Palmanova is conveniently located 20 kilometers from Udine, 28 kilometers from Gorizia, and 55 kilometers from Trieste. It stands near the junction of the A23 and A4 motorways, providing excellent connectivity.
On the notable date of October 7, 1593, the Venetian Republic initiated an innovative settlement concept by establishing Palmanova. This founding date commemorated the triumph of Christian forces, primarily supported by Italian states and the Spanish kingdom, over the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 during the War of Cyprus. This victory was intertwined with the city’s patron saint, Saint Justina. Palmanova’s design, envisioned by Vincenzo Scamozzi, encompassed the features of a nine-pointed star, utilizing cutting-edge military innovations of the 16th century. The star’s points were fortified with protruding ramparts, facilitating mutual defense. Encircling the town was a moat, with guarded gates permitting entry. Over a span of 30 years, the initial 7-kilometer circumference of fortifications was constructed. Subsequent phases took place between 1658 and 1690, followed by the completion of outer fortifications from 1806 to 1813 under Napoleonic rule. The final fortress configuration comprised nine ravelins, nine bastions, nine lunettes, and eighteen cavaliers. Palmanova’s ownership shifted to Austrian rule until 1866 when it was annexed to Italy, along with Veneto and western Friuli. During World War I, the city served as a military zone and even hosted a hospital for the royal army. In 1960, Palmanova received the distinction of being declared a national monument.
The Renaissance Ideal City
Palmanova’s construction aligned with the utopian ideals of the Renaissance period. The town’s concentric layout resembles a star, featuring three nine-sided ring roads converging on primary military radiating streets. Established in the late 16th century by the flourishing Venetian Republic, the city’s design aimed to create a fortified station against Ottoman threats on the eastern frontier. The Renaissance era witnessed the emergence of utopian concepts, both societal and urban, influenced by Sir Thomas More’s work “Utopia.” Palmanova’s geometric harmony, symmetry, and meticulous planning reflected the Renaissance belief that aesthetics contributed to societal well-being. The concentric structure was not only a strategic defense design but also facilitated equal distribution of land, responsibility, and purpose among its inhabitants.
The centerpiece of Palmanova’s attractions is the Duomo, positioned in front of the former town hall (Palace of Provveditore). Commenced in 1603 and completed in 1636, its architects remain uncertain, potentially including Vincenzo Scamozzi and Baldassare Longhena. The Duomo’s consecration took place in 1777, following its inclusion in the Archbishopric of Udine. Notably, the bell tower’s intentional short stature prevented enemies from spotting the Duomo beyond the city walls. The Duomo’s façade showcases niches with statues representing saints, including Justina of Padua and Mark, along with a Redeemer statue. Crafted from Istrian stone, the façade underwent restoration in 2000.
Palmanova’s accessibility is facilitated by its proximity to motorways A23 (Udine-Tarvisio) and A4 (Turin-Trieste). Additionally, the town is connected via a railway between Udine and Cervignano, complemented by bus connections.
By rephrasing the article, I aimed to provide a more informative and cohesive overview of Palmanova’s historical significance, geographical location, architectural features, and transportation options.