As was the case with all cities in the region, the medieval center of Viterbo was protected by a thick city wall. Of course, to get in and out of the city, entrances were needed and Viterbo‘s 14 kilometres of wall contained no fewer than 14 different city gates, almost all of which are still standing. Below is a list of the most important city gates of Viterbo.
City gates Viterbo
Porta San Pietro
The Porta San Pietro is one of the city’s oldest gates. Often bricked up in the days when Roman troops attacked Viterbo, at one time it was completely closed for more than a century after a plague epidemic had hit the city. A fresco that used to adorn this gate is now on display in the Museo Civico.
Porta della Verità
The Porta della Verità (“Gate of the Truth”) was built in the 12th century and was originally called Porta dell’Abate (“of the Abbot”). Its current name is due to three girls who met the Madonna in the nearby church and received a message from her.
The Porta Romana was built in the 17th century to replace a previously existing structure. It is one of the most important gates in the ancient city wall of Viterbo, as it lies along the road to Rome (hence the name) and is close to the city’s central station.
The Porta Faul is located close to the Valle di Faul, a circumstance which caused the original name Porta Farnesiana to be dropped. There are also some other, maybe even more interesting, explanations for the new name.
Porta del Carmine
The Porta del Carmine was built in the 13th century. Although it is an extremely plain, unadorned gate, it is the only one in Viterbo with both a moat and a drawbridge.
The Porta Bove was built around the middle of the 13th century at the behest of a Roman senator called Bonaventura Papareschi. An inscription above the door is flanked by the coat of arms of the Papareschi family, to which Pope Innocenzo II also belonged. However, the name of the gate comes from its original patron Bovone, an earlier (1215) Roman senator. The address of the Porta Bove is Via del Pilastro,8.
The Porta Fiorita is the oldest city gate in the Pianoscarano district. When the street level was lowered and it became difficult for animals and carts to enter the city here, the gate was bricked up and replaced by the Porta San Pietro. Since 1970 the Porta Fiorita has been reopened as part of the restoration work on the walls.
Porta di Valle
There is not much left of the Porta di Valle (in the Via San Paolo). This gate, which was formerly known as Porta di Eviali and defended by the Torre di Branca, was almost completely destroyed by a flood in the middle of the 15th century. The entrance arch can still be seen on the outside of the city wall, more or less where the apse of the former Abbazia della Palomba is now located.
Porta San Marco
The Porta San Marco is a gate built in the 13th century. It was not used for centuries, but has been accessible again for several years.
The Porta Vallia is located along the Via delle Fortezze. It is right behind the Santa Maria delle Fortezze Church and was reopened (although only for pedestrians) several years ago. Other names of this city gate are Porta di San Leonardo and Porta del Crocifisso, because of a fresco on the inside. In the Middle Ages, the gate connected the center of the city with a street that ran below the Tower of San Biele. When this street was no longer used, the gate was also bricked up.
The Porta Murata, which was bricked up for almost four centuries, is also called the Porta Ferentina.
Porta San Simeone
The Porta San Simeone is located close to the Via della Verità.