The Story Behind The Most Perfect Shaped Town In The World

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The Story Behind The Most Perfect Shaped Town In The World

The Story Behind The Most Perfect Shaped Town In The World
The Story Behind The Most Perfect Shaped Town In The World




The fortress city of Palmanova, Italy, is the most perfect shaped town in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. This star fort settlement dates back to 15th century Italy. Regular walls were getting battered hard by cannons and this is why star forts started being built. These fortifications were made out of soil, bricks and other materials meant to strengthen the wall’s structure.

Map of the fortress of Palmanova in the 17th century
Map of the fortress of Palmanova in the 17th century

Located in Northern Italy, Palmanova was built in 1593 by the Republic of Venice in order to celebrate 22 years since their victory against the Ottomans. With that victory, the Venetians managed to protect the Italian Peninsula, and Europe, from the ‘Ottoman threat’. It’s revolutionary star shape walls were designed by Vicenzo Scamozzi.

Vicenzo Scamozzi portrait by Veronese
Vicenzo Scamozzi portrait by Veronese

Palmanova was the largest stronghold in Europe during that period and was created as a nine-sided star with three entry gates (Udine, Aquileia, Cividale) and 18 radial main streets, all leading to the town’s center square – Piazza Grande. This is where the Palace of Provveditore was located.

The fortress city of Palmanova was designed to be a utopia, where all the buildings were geometrically identical and each part of the town had its own particular purpose. The town’s inhabitants would all receive the exact amount of land and share equal responsibilities.

Aerial view of Palmanova
Aerial view of Palmanova

However, we all know that plans don’t always go as we conceive them. This was the case for Palmanova. The main problem with this top-notch (at the time) fortress was that nobody wanted to live here, and nobody moved in. In 1622, the authorities were left with no other solution than to release many of their prisoners and offer them land in Palmanova in order to populate the town.

Satellite image of Palmanova
Satellite image of Palmanova

In its entire history, the most perfect shaped town in the world never faced any battles, although it was built as a defense fort. For almost 200 years it was under Venetian rule and at the beginning of the 1800s it was conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte who added even more military buildings and another star shaped wall surrounding the town.

Piazza Grande with the cathedral
Piazza Grande with the cathedral

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The Austrians took over shortly after and since 1866 the fortress of Palmanova was annexed by the modern Kingdom of Italy. In WWII, it was used as a hospital base by the Italian military. The fortress is considered the perfect example of how a star fort should be build like and since 1960, Palmanova has enjoyed the statute of National Monument.