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Castel Gandolfo is a small Italianmarker town and comune in Lazio that occupies a height overlooking Lake Albanomarker about 30 km south-east of Romemarker, on the Alban Hillsmarker. It is best known as the summer residence of the Pope.


Archaeological findings from the 16th century BC have been found in the area of what is now Castel Gandolfo.

The modern city occupies the site of ancient Alba Longamarker, capital of the Latin League. Its name is derived from a fortification of the ducal Gandolfi family (of Genoesemarker origin, named after St. Gondolfus) in the 12th century, which passed to the Savelli family from whom the Apostolic Camera purchased it in 1596 for 150,000 scudi. Pope Clement VIII was the first pope to come to Castel Gandolfo, but the rebuilding of the old castle was the project of Urban VIII who first came in 1626.

During the Napoleonic Wars, some 900 anti-French citizens of neighboring Velletrimarker held out in Castel Gandolfo, resisting the siege by Joachim Murat.

Main sights

  • The Pope's summer residence (Residenza Papale in Italian) is a 17th century building designed by Carlo Maderno for Pope Urban VIII. The papal palace, and the adjoining Villa Barberini that was added to the complex by Pius XI have enjoyed extraterritorial rights since the signature of the 1929 treaty with Italy; the little piazza directly in front was renamed Piazza della Libertà in the first flush of Italian unity after 1870. The papal palace remained unused from 1870 until 1929. Popes Pius XII (1958) and Paul VI (1978) died at Castel Gandolfo.
  • The site of the papal palace, rebuilt on the ruins of the former castle, partly occupies the foundations of a summer residence of the Emperor Domitian that occupied 14 km² (5.4 square miles). The residence was designed by the famous architect Rabirius. In the palace's inner courtyard is a Roman bust depicting Polyphemus, the Cyclops from whose cave Ulysses escaped; it was found in the nymphaeum of the Imperial villa's gardens, an artificially constructed grotto of the crater lake's outlet.
  • The parish church, dedicated to St. Thomas of Villanova was designed by Bernini (1658-1661) on the order of the Chigi Pope Alexander VII. It has a square plant, and houses a notable pale by Pietro da Cortona portraying the Crucifixion of Christ.
  • The two telescopes of the Vatican Observatorymarker, which were moved from Romemarker to Castel Gandolfo in the 1930s, were still used until the 1980s. The headquarters of the Vatican Observatory is still located in Castel Gandolfo. However, its dependent research center, the Vatican Observatory Research Group (VORG), is hosted by Steward Observatorymarker at the University of Arizonamarker, Tucson, USA. The telescopes are located in Mt. Graham, Arizona.

Twin towns - Sister cities

Castel Gandolfo is twinned with:

See also

External links


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