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Tarquinia, formerly Corneto and in Antiquity Tarquinii, is an ancient city in the province of Viterbo, Lazio, Italymarker.

History

Tarquinii (Etruscan Tarchnal) is said to have been already a flourishing city when Demaratus of Corinth brought in Greek workmen. It was the chief of the twelve cities of Etruria, and appears in the earliest history of Rome as the home of two of its kings, Tarquinius Priscus and Tarquinius Superbus. From it many of the religious rites and ceremonies of Rome are said to have been derived, and even in imperial times a collegium of sixty haruspices continued to exist there. The people of Tarquinii and Veiimarker attempted to restore Tarquinius Superbus to the throne after his expulsion.

In 358 BCE the citizens of Tarquinii captured and put to death 307 Roman soldiers; the resulting war ended in 351 with a forty years' truce, renewed for a similar period in 308. When Tarquinii came under Roman domination is uncertain, as is also the date at which it became a municipality; in 181 BCE its port, Graviscae (mod. Porto Clementino), in an unhealthy position on the low coast, became a Roman colony. It exported wine and carried on coral fisheries. Nor do we hear much of it in Roman times; it lay on the hills above the coast road. The flax and forests of its extensive territory are mentioned by classical authors, and we find Tarquinii offering to furnish Scipio with sailcloth in 195 BCE. A bishop of Tarquinii is mentioned in 456.
A night view of Tarquinia with the Priori Palace.
The original site of the Etruscan city of Tarquinia, known as the "Civita", is on the long plateau to the north of the current town. The two coexisted for most of the early Middle Ages, with Tarquinia dwindling to a small fortified settlement on the "Castellina" location, and the more strategically placed Corneto (possibly the "Corito" mentioned in Roman sources) growing progressively to become the major city of the lower Maremma sea coast, especially after the destruction of the port of Centumcellae (modern Civitavecchia). The last historic references to Tarquinia are from around 1250, while the name of Corneto was changed to Tarquinia in 1934. Reversion to historical place names (not always accurately), was a frequent phenomenon under the Fascist Government of Italy as part of the nationalist campaign to evoke past glories.


Main sights

The Vitelleschi Palace, home to the National Museum of Tarquinia.
  • The Etruscan necropolises, with some 6,000 tombs, 200 of which include wall paintings.
  • The National Museum, with a large collection of archaeological findings. It is housed in the Renaissance Palazzo Vitelleschi, begun in 1436 and completed around 1480-1490
  • Church of Santa Maria di Castello (1121-1208), with Lombard and Cosmatesque influences. The façade has a small bell-tower and three entrances. The interior has a nave and two aisles, divided by massive pilasters with palaeo-Christian capitals and friezes. Noteworthy are also the rose-window in the nave and the several marble works by Roman masters.
  • The Cathedral, once in Romanesque-Gothic style but rebuilt after the 1643 fire, has maintained from the original edifice the 16th century frescoes in presbitery, by Antonio del Massaro.
  • Church of San Giacomo and Santissima Annunziata, showing different Arab and Byzantine influences.
  • The small church of San Martino (12th century).
  • The church of St. John the Baptist (12th century), with an elegant rose-window in the simple façade.
  • The Communal Palace, in Romanesque style, begun in the 13th century and restored in the 16th.
  • The numerous medieval towers, including that of Dante Alighieri.
  • The Palazzo dei Priori. The façade, remade in Baroque times, has a massive external staircase. The interior has a fresco cycle from 1429.
  • The Gothic-Romanesque church of San Pancrazio.


Twin towns



External links





References







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