Parco urbano delle Mura (Wall Park) in Genova
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Via del Peralto, 6 - 16136 Genova (GE)
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With its 876 hectares, the Parco delle Mura (Wall Park) holds the most important historical-architectural structures of the defensive complex erected between the 18th and the 19th centuries to protect the city from enemy attacks.
The first section of the surrounding wall – the longest in Europe – dates back to the period between 1626 and 1632, when 12 kilometres of wall were erected along the ridges and more than 3 km along the coastline, enclosing a surface area of more than 1,800 hectares.

Enlarged in the 18th century, the complex was completed under the Savoy reign in the 19th century with construction, from east to west, of the forts of Santa Tecla, Richelieu, Quezzi, Ratti, and Castellaccio, Fratello Minore, Puin, Crocetta, Begato, Tenaglia and Sperone for a total of sixteen buildings made up of towers and fortresses.

The park, which is the most extensive green area in the county town, has forts to the west of the River Bisagno and forts that run to the east along val Polcevera: from here the surrounding wall encompasses the Lanterna (Lantern), the lighthouse that is the symbol of Genoa, next to the cape of the same name. What makes this area unique is its position along the ridge between the city and the high ground, where spontaneous vegetation dominates, with a discreet level of ecology and numerous habitats and species of animals.

There are many paths that connect the antique city with the hills:  steep ascents (called “creuze”) paved with bricks which from the Mure Nuove (New Walls) reach the two valleys through the passages; crossing routes halfway along the coast and on the ridges; military mule tracks from the 19th century that connect the forts; mechanical lines for climbing made between the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, (Zecca – Righi funicular, Principe – Granarolo cog railway, the Casella train that runs along the eastern perimeter of the area protected by the Walls and which connects with the Regional Park of Antola).

With the Development of the natural and cultural resources of Liguria project (Level 4 of the ROP ERDF 2007-2013), the proposal is to re-organize the travel systems and “access doors” to the different zones of the protected area, even outside the municipal boundaries, functionally connecting the area with the main urban nodes preferably by means of public transport.

An additional aim is to lead the flow of visitors towards the other important reference points in the city: the historical Aqueduct, Villa Serra di Manesseno, Fort Diamante in the municipality of Sant’Olcese, Antola Park and the Alta Via dei Monti Liguri (a high-level trail).

A little bit of history

It is an extremely vast fortified system, built to defend Genoa against attacks from the north. The 17th century walls, in the shape of an upside down V, encircle most of the city, starting from the sea and up to the hills at the back.
This huge work, which is almost 20 kilometres long, was strengthened in the 18th and 19th centuries by powerful forts. The Genoese, then the French, and then again the Piedmontese, built or perfected the forts of Tenaglia, Crocetta, Begato, Castellaccio, Sperone, Puin, Diamante, Fratello Minore and Fratello Maggiore.

Another important landmark in the area is the historical Aqueduct, just a short distance from the Parco delle Mura: the aqueduct, in fact, crosses the end section of the park.

The green areas in direct contact with the ancient city are characterised by a special richness of historical assets, buildings of monumental importance like the fortified system from the 17th century that occupies more than 12 kilometres of the Walls, the 16 forts that date back to the 18th – 19th centuries, witnesses of the historical routes and buildings in the different valleys.

In addition, the Protected Area preserves many other confirmations of the past: archaeological sites, monasteries and convents on the roads that lead up to the city, “villa residences” and representative rural nuclei.

The intervention

The intervention was included in a well-structured programme for restoring and developing the area protected by the Parco delle Mura.

The purpose of the intervention was to increase area usability by means of different tourist, educational and excursion activities; in particular it tried to develop the trail network, and also cycle path routes for different styles (cycling holidays and mountain-bike routes) with interventions to increase safety, and create connections with the Genoa-Casella railway and the historical Aqueduct. The intervention gave numerous results: first of all accessibility was improved, permanent educational and information signs were completed and installed, positioned at interesting points along the excursion routes and near the main access points to the trails.

Interventions were also carried out on the "Casetta Rossa" educational Centre, which can now be used in a better way.

Nearby

Garbo in the Polcevera valley, close to the Parco Urbano delle Mura, is the location of the Museum of Rural Life, inaugurated in 1983 and extended in 1997 with the acquisition of new areas on the ground floor.

Hosted in a villa in the high ground, it offers the possibility of analysing all the aspects of historical Ligurian settlements, the organisation of peasant homes, family life, and the main jobs carried out in the past, the cycles of the main cultivation in the area (vines, olives, chestnuts, cereals), with attention also on the religion of the people.

It holds furnishings, agricultural equipment, tools for artisan production and photographs inside. The location of the Museum, which is in a dominant position, makes it easier to observe the signs of human presence in the valley: from here traces of settlements before the urban expansion that widened the borders of Genoa can be seen.

Oddities

Fort Sperone, probably the most important in the Genoese fortification system, is at the top of Mount Peralto, in a position that dominates the city and where the Nuove Mura meet the routes that lead north, towards the forts of Puin, Fratello Minore and Diamante.

The first meagre information on this fort dates back to 1300, but we have to wait until 1530, the year in which the Genoa senate financed the construction of a fortification on Peralto, for more precise indications of a defensive construction here.
The fort – as it appears today – derives from the modifications that were made between 1700 and 1800.

Used as a prison during the First World War and then by the Guardia di Finanza (customs) between 1958 and 1981, the fort is now the location for occasional theatre presentations and cultural performances during the summer season.

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