It is located on the right bank of the river Isonzo, twelve kilometers from the provincial capital, Gorizia, about 35 km from Trieste and 30 km from Udine.
Since ancient times, the river Isonzo was an effective defensive barrier. The area of Gradisca, in particular, was in a position military and economic ideal. You probably already inhabited in Roman times, the present territory of Gradisca was during the Lombard period, a place of frequent and violent raids by the Magyars.
The first document, still preserved, which speaks of the village, dates back to 1176 and describes Gradisca as an agricultural village of seven families, some of Slavic origin, others of Latin origin, subject to the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Aquileia. History is silent for the next three hundred years, in which the place is an agricultural center politically insignificant, belonging to the estate of Farra d’Isonzo.
Only in 1420, when the Republic of Venice attaches the Patriarchate of Aquileia and thus Gradisca in 1473, the city takes on greater significance.
The city is part of the state Venetian mainland from 1479 to 1511, a period in which it is consolidated through an overhaul of the same, now conceived as a bulwark of Venice (and Christianity) against the Turks.
Taking advantage of the natural defense provided by the Isonzo river, Venice tries to oppose the Turkish incursions creating a fortified line from Mainizza in Fogliano, with Gradisca as a strength. Between 1476 and il1498 is in fact built on the right bank of the Isonzo, a massive defensive fortress. The entire town is enclosed in a mighty wall nearly twenty meters high, while the exterior walls, the river’s waters were diverted and channeled into a wide moat, while the wall is reinforced by seven fortified towers.
Within a few years, the agricultural village has thus acquired such importance that, in 1500, Leonardo da Vinci is sent to Gradisca on behalf of the Venetian Senate, to develop new weapons and defense systems outpost.
The Venetian period currently retain most of the walls, six towers, the Porta Nuova, as well as numerous medieval buildings, including the Church of Our Lady of the Blessed and the home of Venetian Superintendents (since 1965 home of the famous wine “La Serenissima “Regional Wine Italian public first).
In 1511, during the War of the League of Cambrai, the troops of the Archduke of Austria Maximilian I of Habsburg besieged and finally conquered the city: which is from now headed an imperial.
The city becomes important military during the captaincy of Nicholas of the Tower, which is adding new fortifications. At the same time there is a considerable increase in population and the town gained greater autonomy.
From 1615 to 1617 Venice tries in vain to regain control of the territory, beginning the War of Gradisca. After resisting for two years to attack the Venetians, at the end of the war the city became the capital of the new County of Gradisca, later sold by Fernando III, to meet the expenses of the Thirty Years’ War, to Prince John Anthony of Eggenberg.
This is certainly the most prosperous period for the city, which, from a military fortress, undergoes a gradual transformation in the residential town of nobility. The town is enriched with new buildings, many of which are still present today, including the impressive Palazzo Torriani (now Town Hall), the former residence of the noble family of the Della Torre, which belonged to some of the most important masters of the city. Of great importance also some public buildings of the time, the palace of the pawn shop and gallery of merchants (now the lapidary number) and some noble residences like the Palace De-Stuckenfeld Comelli and the Fin De Patuna. Of the same period is the baroque cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul (built on a pre-existing church, probably of Lombard origin), in which you can admire the monumental tomb where he is buried Nicholas II of the Tower, the first captain of the city, in addition to the altars of the eighteenth century and some frescoes of the same period.
From 1647 to 1717, including the fifty-two locations in the county of Gradisca assume the character of a small independent state, administered by men of valor as Ulderico Francesco della Torre (descended from the Torriani family, lords of Milan), which provide the city a flourishing economy and a substantial degree of independence from the imperial power in legislative matters, and monetary measures.
In 1717, with the extinction of the male line of the House of Eggenberg, the county will be returned to the Habsburgs.
In 1754, under the reign of Maria Theresa of Austria, the city and its territory are fused to the County of Gorizia, to form a new state: the Princely County of Gorizia and Gradisca, while maintaining a significant cultural and economic influence, becoming, despite its political subordination in Gorizia, a bishopric in 1788.
The stability of the counties is disturbed by the arrival of Napoleon, that the conquest in 1797, returning at first to Austria and then win them back again in 1806, when the city became the capital of the department of viceprefettura Passariano. Recovery from Austria after the fall of the French emperor, the city no longer has any military significance, instead buy an outstanding tourist resort town as in the second half of the nineteenth century, while the castle was, for a time, used a prison (hosting many members of the Renaissance).
In 1855, Field Marshal Radetzky, governor of Lombardy-Venetia, allows the removal of part of the walls of the fortress, to a request of the citizens, to give the city more breathing: in 1863 is thus created the “Esplanade”, a fine place meeting, that the beginning of the twentieth century will be enriched by wonderful cafes and trendy clubs.
In 1914 an outbreak of the First World War: the Gradisca participate under the Austro-Hungarian uniform, mainly on the eastern front, but many desert and flee to Italy, to escape the conscription or for ideological reasons and national. During the retreat of Caporetto the city is on fire severely damaged. At the end of the war January 6, 1921, the city was annexed to Italy. Among the more recent buildings, the imposing City Theatre, made from eighteenth-century stables, which overlooks the square unification of Italy, at the entrance of the old town.
In May of 1945, at the end of World War II, the community Gradiscan fears annexation to Tito’s Yugoslavia, but the Italian sovereignty on the territory remains.
For some years Gradisca is also known for the prestigious regional art gallery “Luigi Spazzapan” (in the building Torriani), which, in addition to hosting numerous works of the artist ‘is used to organize exhibitions and artistic events of interest.
The coat of arms of the town of Gradisca d’Isonzo consists of a shield of gold in the upper half of yellow and blue in the bottom half with the symbol of the Latin cross in silver above the crescent, surmounted by a crown walls in the form of nine towers.
The municipality uses, in official ceremonies, the banner. It consists of a cloth in the upper half yellow and half in the bottom of blue, depicting the coat of arms in the center, above which appear the words: “City of Gradisca d’Isonzo”, surrounded by a branch to the left bay and on the right by an oak branch, joined by a tricolor ribbon.
A lounge Central European enclosed by massive walls
There are four periods of Gradisca: the fifteenth century Venetian, the seventeenth century Austrian Habsburg the nineteenth century and the twentieth-century Italian.
Made by the Republic of Venice as a bulwark against Turkish incursions, which in Friuli were furious and frequent, was built by the architects of Venice as a fortified town with wide streets that intersect at right angles (for easy maneuvering of the soldiers) and go to form a regular building fabric, divided into compact blocks of houses.
The fifteenth-century civil construction has been lost. The earliest period of Gradisca remain the House of Venetian Superintendents (now headquarters of the Regional), and the Palace of the IRS (also called Coassini Palace), built between 1479 and 83, which in recent façade alterations.
Between the second half of the sixteenth century. and the first quarter of the seventeenth is to be located Strassoldo Palace, prototype for many other stately mansions built in Gradisca during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The government of the princes of Eggenberg (1647-1717) was the golden age of Gradisca, which experienced a remarkable economic development, civil, demographic and urban. Muta therefore the appearance also from the point of view of construction, with the fortified village of origin late-fifteenth that turns into citadel residential lordly.
Between 1650 and 1750 are built almost all noble palaces that still characterize the historical center. By the end of the seventeenth century. were probably already completed Casa de ‘Portis, Casa de’ Salamanca, Waterfalls, and one of the most important buildings of the town, Palazzo de ‘Comelli-Stuckenfeld, severe and massive, which borrows from the paginated Strassoldo Palace facade.
In the following decades arise other noble residences such as Casa de ‘Brumatti, House and Home Spangher Ciotti: with the last two you enter in the eighteenth century. All buildings are closed and compact, with a nice rustic portal on the facade, whose style is reminiscent of the tardomanierismo and Venetian Baroque.
But here we are in the province, in a closed fortress, which explains the look a bit ‘harsh, certainly played down by two “Ciacole” in the pub, and the level a bit’ lower than the great Venetian models – although since too high compared to standard construction Friuli period.
In addition to the noble palaces, the city center is enhanced during the captaincy of Uldarico Francesco della Torre (1656-95), two buildings, on public initiative: the Loggia of the Merchants, designed as a meeting place of the local nobility and later became benchmark of the merchant class, and the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà, built to counter the wear practiced by Jews. The first is located in front of the Palace of the Superintendents and the ground floor has a charming loggia with three arches ashlar, and the second, imposing, has an elegant portal surmounted by a canopy in which stands a Baroque sculpture depicting the Pietà.
During the government of the tower took shape even Palazzo Torriani (1710-30), the residence of the noble family Gradisca, a beautiful suburban villa that lies between the city palace and country residence. The building, now the town hall, is undoubtedly the most important of Gradisca: inspired by Palladio, can be read as an outpost of Venetian culture in eastern Friuli.
Noteworthy are also home Toscani, with an impressive rustic portal just softened by small balcony railing, Palace of Fin-Patuna, sensitivity already rococo, and anyway Alps, and Lottieri Palace, whose facade is the restructuring of the previous century structure.
In 1863, with the removal of a section of the defensive walls, Gradisca is open to the greenery of the park, in the Friuli plain, freeing military obsession.
The “Esplanade”, the center of the social life of the town, attracting foreigners, 800, with military parades of Austrian horse and concerts of the Philharmonic Society. After the war arose the coffee Habsburg tradition.
Walking along the route of the old walls, which were studied by Leonardo da Vinci, there are six towers and two massive gates: Porta Nuova and Porta del Soccorso. Inside the walls is the Castle, whose core is the Palazzo del Capitano.
Finally, as regards the religious buildings, are to visit the Cathedral with its beautiful baroque facade and the Church of the Addolorata, built in the late fifteenth century.