The historical heritage of Albenga

Albenga was the ancient capital of the powerful Ligurian tribe of the Ingauni, from which it took the name of Albium Ingaunum (the name then changed into Albingaunum, in Albingauna and finally into Albenga).

Among the Roman remains of Albenga are the ruins of an amphitheater, a theater and an aqueduct, some public buildings, a funerary monument from the 2nd century. A.D. called Il Pilone sul Monte, the hill in the direction of Alassio, along with stretches of the ancient Iulia Augusta street and ruins of villas. The ruins of the cemetery basilicas of San Vittore and San Calocero are preserved from the 4th and 5th centuries. Today it has the best preserved historical center of western Liguria, the ancient town maintains its compact medieval construction, on the plan of the Roman nucleus, with leaning houses and the famous towers; living testimony of the importance of Albingaunum in history.

Stroll around the historic center of Albenga

 

To better admire the monumental aspect of the city as a whole it is advisable to go to the central Enrico d'Aste street, where is the Church of Saint Mary in Fontibus, adorned with a beautiful Gothic portal, fronted by the tower of the Cazzulini home, of XIII century. The church is of the thirteenth century, but was remodeled in 1617. A little further on, the two red Communal Towers with the cathedral bell tower and other smaller towers stand out. The Cathedral of San Michele, built on the early Christian one, preserves structures from the 11th century in the lower part of the facade and from the 12th century in the upper part, in the sides and in the apse. The bell tower is a reconstruction of 1391-95 with five floors on the Romanesque basement. The interior, restored to medieval architecture, preserves traces from the 4th century and the Carolingian crypt. The frescoes and the organ are remarkable.

 

Next to the church are the Old palace of Municipality   (1387), with the mighty mullioned tower and with external ramps, and the Baptistery, which is the main Ligurian monument of the early Christian times. The Baptistery of Albenga has a decagonal plan on the outside and an octagonal one on the inside with alternately rectangular and semicircular niches and is an extraordinary example of early Christian architecture of the mid-5th century. Its splendid Trinitarian-Christological mosaic can be considered one of the most significant of northern Italy, along with, of course, those of Ravenna. The entrance niche is flanked by two tombs, one with ornamental Longobard sculptures from the 8th century, while the one in front of the entrance contains the aforementioned Byzantine mosaic with the monogram of Christ and the 12 doves representing the Apostles. In two other niches there is a sixteenth-century baptismal font and a fresco from the fourteenth century. In the center there are the remains of the primitive immersion baptismal font.

The Piazzetta of lions is suggestive, behind the cathedral, adorned with three renaissance stone lions. Here, in medieval times, there was the market for shoemakers and tanned leathers. Noteworthy are the municipal tower with a black stone base and the towers (between the XII and XIII) of the aforementioned Cazzulini house, of the Costa Palaces, Aste-Rolandi-Ricci, Lengueglia-Doria, Rolandi-Ricci, of  Oddo Palace, of Hairy-Cepolla Palace and that of the bishop's palace.

Romanica is the loggia of Fieschi-Ricci Palace and an arcade of the loggia of the Four Chants. Typical examples of Ligurian mansions are the Del Carretto of Balestrino Palace from the 16th century and the d'Aste Palace of the 17th century. In the Old Palace of the Municipality there is the new office of the IAT and the Civic Museum Ingauno  which collects Roman and medieval objects (sculptures, tombstones, sarcogages and frescoes of the XV), archaeological and epigraphic collections. On the upper floor there is a prehistoric section with materials from the caves of Val Pennavaira.

 

The Roman Naval Museum is located in the Palazzo Doria-Cepolla and gathers over a thousand Roman amphorae recovered from a ship of the 1st century BC, sunk in the waters of Albenga. It was the first Roman cargo ship discovered and explored on the bottom of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The first recoveries took place in 1950 by the ship "Artiglio". The Diocesan Museum, in frescoed and decorated 15th century settings, presents the exhibition of works of art and materials from the excavation of the cathedral. Among the paintings there is a San Giovanni attributed to Caravaggio and Il Martirio di Santa Caterina by Guido Reni.

One cannot fail to mention the medieval longBridge, with ten basement arches, under which once the Centa River flowed with beside the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Pontelungo of Baroque construction, with a sixteenth-century Barbagelata triptych. Every year it is recalled on 2 July 1637, when the pirates landed at Ceriale, marching on Albenga to plunder the city, were stopped by a violent glare attributed to a miraculous intervention of the Madonna, venerated in the small church next to the bridge, to protect the ingauno people.
Outside the historic center  we note the Church of San Giorgio in the Campochiesa hamlet, from the 12th century. with various frescoes in the interior, one of which represents an overview of the Divine Comedy with Dante and Virgilio; S. Bernardino (with a Last Judgment by Bisacci of 1483), S. Stefano di Massaro (11th, 15th century) near the hamlet of Bastia, the bell tower of the parish of San Fedele (13th century), S. Maria del Bossero to Leca.

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