Torre Prendiparte

BOLOGNA IN THE 12TH CENTURY

After the year one thousand, society slowly started to reorganize itself and the vassals, who had inherited ancient powers through the centuries, moved to the towns and built towers there, which had the same purposes as castles, namely to be defensive and offensive structures. In the little Mediaeval Bologna, which at the time of the building of the earliest towers was still limited by a small selenite circle of walls, these buildings had to develop vertically. In those days, there was a civil war, either openly or not evidently, which was causing many casualties and giving momentum to an unstoppable spiral of hate and revenge. This reached its heyday at the end of the 13th century with what was defined as “the extreme ruin of Bologna”, when the winning Guelph party drove over a quarter of the population, the hated Ghibelline, out of town, saying: “It is good if they die!”.

The towers we can see today are simple brick structures, but in order to fully understand the charm of these buildings, we should imagine them alive. The building we can see today was just the core on which there were wooden landings and structures, full of life. The openings in the towers, which look like windows, are actually doors and show clear signs of their having been trodden on for so long. The towers were practically blocks of flats, were the various branches of a family made up a guild; each branch had a house at the foot of the tower and a passage to the highest floors of the building. In this way, in case of danger, everyone could quickly reach the tower, which served as both a safe defence or a dangerous fortress.

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