The Porta Santa Maria is the first monument one encounters when entering Civita di Bagnoregio. The ancient city gate is decorated with, their claws resting on a pair of human heads. The gate is also known as the Porta Cava,
Porta di Santa Maria Civita di Bagnoregio
The monument is located at the entrance to the city and can be seen from outside.
History and description
Civita di Bagnoregio was founded more than 2500 years ago on a large rock in the middle of a landscape that, due to erosion, has been completely transformed into a kind of lunar landscape (the calanchi).
The town used to be connected to the lower terrain by a headland, but this has also been completely eroded and now one can reach Civita only by means of a footbridge.
At the top of this footbridge is the main gateway to the old town, the Porta di Santa Maria. This gate, named for a nearby church, was dug out into the tuff stone wall in the times of the Etruscans.
The Porta di Santa Maria was adapted in the Middle Ages, when the Gothic arch was added.
The gate is made of the local stone type peperino. The most striking elements of the gate are the two lions with human heads between their claws. This is meant to symbolize the successful popular uprising against the Monaldeschis, the dynasty that in the 15th century kept the entire region under its thumb.
The Porta di Santa Maria is crowned by a loggia with two columns.
Once one has walked through the gate, one arrives at Via di Porta Santa Maria, the main street that leads to the central square of Civita di Bagnoregio.
There also used to be a second city gate, the Porta della Maestà. This gate, according to legend, used to lead through a narrow street to the hot spring to which the then Balneoregium owed its name.