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Ancona was founded from Syracuse about 390 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 (Sil. Ital. viii. 438). 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.
The harbour of Ancona.
The harbour of Ancona.

When it became a Roman colony is doubtful. It was occupied as a naval station in the Illyrian War of 178 BC (Livy xli. i). 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 arch 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 Ravenna.[1] 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 Gaeta, Trani and Ragusa, it is one of those not appearing on the Italian naval flag), often clashing against the nearby power of Venice. 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 to the Crusades, and his navigators include Cyriac of Ancona. In the struggle between the Popes and the Emperors that troubled Italy from the 12th century onwards, Ancona sided for Guelphs.

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 much of the edifices. The Malatesta were ousted in 1383. In 1532 it lost definitively its freedom and became part of the Papal States, under Pope Clement VII. Symbol of the papal authority was the massive Citadel. Together with Rome and Avignon, Ancona was the sole city in the Papal States in which the Jews were allowed to stay after 1569, living into the ghetto built after 1555.

Pope Clement XII prolonged 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.

From 1797 onwards, when the French took it, it frequently appears in history as an important fortress, until Christophe Léon Louis Juchault de Lamoricière capitulated here on 29 September 1860, eleven days after his defeat at Castelfidardo.

Photo Information
  • Copyright: Stamatis Stamatis (stamatis) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 278 W: 11 N: 413] (2565)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2008-06-15
  • Exposure: f/2.8, 1 seconds
  • Details: Tripod: Yes
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2008-06-21 8:07
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Additional Photos by Stamatis Stamatis (stamatis) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 278 W: 11 N: 413] (2565)
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