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Ancona ( ; from ) is a city and a seaport in the Marche, a region of central Italymarker, population 101,909 (2005). Ancona is situated on the Adriatic Seamarker and is the center of the province of Ancona and the capital of the region.

The city is located 280 km northeast of Romemarker and 200 km southeast of Bolognamarker.

The town is finely situated on and between the slopes of the two extremities of the promontory of Monte Coneromarker, Monte Astagno, occupied by the citadel, and Monte Guasco, on which the Duomo stands (150 m). The latter, dedicated to St Judas Cyriacus, is said to occupy the site of a temple of Venus, who is mentioned by Catullus and Juvenal as the tutelary deity of the place.


Ancona was founded by settlers from Syracusemarker about 387 BC, who gave it its name: Ancona is a very slightly modified transliteration of the Greek Αγκων, meaning "elbow"; the harbor to the east of the town was originally protected only by the promontory on the north, shaped like an elbow. Greek merchants established a Tyrian purple factory here. In Roman times it kept its own coinage with the punning device of the bent arm holding a palm branch, and the head of Aphrodite on the reverse, and continued the use of the Greek language.

When it became a Roman colony is doubtful. It was occupied as a naval station in the Illyrian War of 178 BC. Julius Caesar took possession of it immediately after crossing the Rubicon. Its harbour was of considerable importance in imperial times, as the nearest to Dalmatia, and was enlarged by Trajan, who constructed the north quay with his Syrian architect Apollodorus of Damascus. At the beginning of it stands the marble triumphal archmarker with a single archway, and without bas-reliefs, erected in his honour in 115 by the senate and people.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Ancona was successively attacked by the Goths, Lombards and Saracens, but recovered its strength and importance. It was one of the cities of the Pentapolis under the exarchate of Ravennamarker, an administrative unit of the Byzantine Empire. With the Carolingian conquest of northern Italy, it became the capital of the Marca di Ancona, whence the name of the modern region. After 1000 Ancona became increasingly independent, eventually turning into an important maritime republic (together with Gaetamarker, Tranimarker and Ragusamarker, it is one of those not appearing on the Italian naval flag), often clashing against the nearby power of Venicemarker. An oligarchic republic, Ancona was ruled by six Elders, elected by the three terzieri into which the city was divided: S. Pietro, Porto and Capodimonte. It had a coin of its own, the agontano, and a series of laws known as Statuti del mare e del Terzenale and Statuti della Dogana. Ancona was usually allied with Ragusa and the Byzantine Empire. In 1137, 1167 and 1174 it was strong enough to push back imperial forces. Anconitan ships took part in the Crusades, and their navigators included Cyriac of Ancona. In the struggle between the Popes and the Emperors that troubled Italy from the 12th century onwards, Ancona sided with the Guelph.
The Cathedral of San Ciriaco
Differently from other cities of northern Italy, Ancona never became a seignory. The sole exception was the rule of the Malatesta, who took the city in 1348 taking advantage of the black death and of a fire that had destroyed many of its important buildings. The Malatesta were ousted in 1383. In 1532 it definitively lost its freedom and became part of the Papal Statesmarker, under Pope Clement VII. Symbol of the papal authority was the massive Citadel. Together with Rome and Avignonmarker, Ancona was the sole city in the Papal States in which the Jews were allowed to stay after 1569, living in the ghetto built after 1555.

Pope Clement XII extended the quay, and an inferior imitation of Trajan's arch was set up; he also erected a Lazaretto at the south end of the harbor, Luigi Vanvitelli being the architect-in-chief. The southern quay was built in 1880, and the harbour was protected by forts on the heights.
The Vanvitelli's Lazzaretto
From 1797 onwards, when the French took it, it frequently appears in history as an important fortress, until Christophe Léon Louis Juchault de Lamoricière surrendered here on 29 September 1860, eleven days after his defeat at Castelfidardomarker.

The portal of the church of San Francesco

During World War II, in July 1944, the city was taken by the Polish II Corps as part of an Allied operation to gain access to a seaport closer to the Gothic Line in order to shorten their lines of communication for the advance into northern Italy.


In 2007, there were 101,480 people residing in Ancona (the greater area has a population more than four times its size), located in the province of Ancona, Marche, of whom 47.6% were male and 52.4% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 15.54 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 24.06 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Ancona resident is 48 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Ancona grew by 1.48 percent, while Italymarker as a whole grew by 3.56 percent.[8452][8453] The current birth rate of Ancona is 8.14 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.

As of 2006, 92.77% of the population was Italian. The largest immigrant group came from other European nations (particularly those from Albaniamarker, Romaniamarker and Ukrainemarker): 3.14%, followed by the Americas: 0.93%, East Asia: 0.83%, and North Africa: 0.80%. Currently, 1 in 6 babies born in Ancona has at least one foreign parent, among whom an Eastern European background is most prevalent.

Main sights

Cathedral church of S. Ciriaco

The beautiful Cathedral, dedicated to St. Ciriaco, was consecrated in 1128 and completed in 1189. Some writers suppose that the original church was in the form of a Latin cross and belonged to the 8th century. An early restoration was completed in 1234. It is a fine Romanesque building in grey stone, built in the form of a Greek cross, with a dodecagonal dome over the center slightly altered by Margaritone d'Arezzo in 1270. The façade has a Gothic portal, ascribed to Giorgio da Como (1228), which was intended to have a lateral arch on each side.
A view of St. Ciriaco Cathedral from the port

The interior, which has a crypt under each transept, in the main preserves its original character. It has ten columns which are attributed to the temple of Venus, and there are good screens of the 12th century, and other sculptures. The church was carefully restored in the 1980s.

Other monuments

  • The marble Arch of Trajan, 18 m high, was erected in 114/115 as an entrance to the causeway atop the harbor wall in honor of the emperor who had made the harbor, is one of the finest Roman monuments in the Marche. Most of its original bronze enrichments have disappeared. It stands on a high podium approached by a wide flight of steps. The archway, only 3 m wide, is flanked by pairs of fluted Corinthian columns on pedestals. An attic bears inscriptions. The format is that of the Arch of Titusmarker in Rome, but made taller, so that the bronze figures surmounting it, of Trajan, his wife Plotina and sister Marciana, would figure as a landmark for ships approaching Rome's greatest Adriatic port.
  • The Lazzaretto (Laemocomium or "Mole Vanvitelliana"), planned by architect Luigi Vanvitelli in 1732 is a pentagonal building covering more than 20,000 m², built to protect the military defensive authorities from the risk of contagious diseases eventually reaching the town with the ships. Later it was used also as a military hospital or as barracks; it is currently used for cultural exhibits.
  • The Episcopal Palace was the place where Pope Pius II died in 1464.
  • The church of Santa Maria della Piazza has an elaborate arcaded façade (1210).
  • The Palazzo del Comune, with its lofty arched substructures at the back, was the work of Margaritone d'Arezzo, but has been restored twice.

There are also several fine late Gothic buildings, including the churches of S. Francesco and S. Agostino, the Palazzo Benincasa, the Palazzo del Senato and the Loggia dei Mercanti[8454], all by Giorgio Orsini, usually called da Sebenicomarker, and the prefecture, which has Renaissance additions.

The portal of S. Maria della Misericordia is an ornate example of early Renaissance work.

The archaeological museum contains interesting pre-Roman (Piceni) objects from tombs in the district, and two Roman beds with fine decorations in ivory.
The port of Ancona
The port of Ancona is a major departure point for trans-Adriatic ferries.

The Pinacoteca Civica Francesco Podesti is housed in the Palazzo Bosdari, reconstructed in 1558 - 1561 by Pellegrino Tibaldi. Works in the gallery include:

Other artists present include Carlo da Camerino (late 15th- early 16th century) and Arcangelo di Cola (fl. 1416-1429). Modern artists featured are Bartolini, Bucci, Campigli, Cassinari, Cucchi, Levi, Sassu, Tamburi, Trubbiani, Podesti and others.



The Port has regular ferry links to the following cities with the following operators:
  • Adria Ferries (Durrës)
  • Blue Line International (Split, Stari Grad, Vis)
  • Jadrolinija (Split, Zadar)
  • SNAV (Split) (seasonal)
  • Superfast Ferries (Igoumenitsa, Patras)
  • ANEK Lines (Igoumenitsa, Patras)
  • Minoan Lines (Igoumenitsa, Patras)
  • Marmara Lines (Cesme)


Ancona is served by Ancona Airportmarker (IATA: AOI, ICAOmarker: LIPY), an airport located in Falconara Marittima and named after Raffaello Sanzio.

Twin cities

See also


  1. Silius Italicus, VIII. 438
  2. Livy xli. i
  3. The other four were Fano, Pesaro, Senigallia and Rimini


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