The most complete online resource about slow tourism and Italian villages
Join our community

Fortress Abbey

What to see in Subiaco, Roma, Lazio


the Fortress Abbey of Subiaco, known as the Rocca of Borgia, was built around the end of the XI century by the Abbot John V. Built on a steep hill for defensive purposes with fortifications, prisons, a tower and a church. The fortress was built between 1073 and 1077, as a defense of the heritage that the abbey of Santa Scolastica held in the area. The fortress underwent several damages after the earthquake of 1349.

The Pope Calixtus III (Uncle of the future Pope Alexander VI) in 1456 decided to entrust his Delegate the administration of the patrimony of the Abbey, instituting the Commenda of cardinal deprived the monks of the temporal power of the village. The restorations were completed in 1476 under the Commenda of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who expanded the structure making build the quadrangular bastion that looks to the east. Here are assumed to be born his sons Giovanni, Cesare and Lucrezia his mistress Vannozza Cattanei.

Rodrigo Borgia, having ascended to the papal throne in 1492 with the name of Alexander VI, ceded the castle to cardinal Giovanni Colonna. The Colonna family stand the territory for 116 years.

In 1778 the architect Pietro Camporese, at the behest of Pope Pius VI, accomplished restoration work which however and they smote the elements which characterize the fortress as medieval castle: the tower was halved, eliminated the trap and the Prisons; the western nucleus was equipped with the impressive clock. The construction thus became a modern palace, suitable to be used as the residence of the commendatory abbot. There sheltered even Popes Pius VII, Gregory XVI and Pius IX.

The Rocca Abbaziale of Subiaco is a complex composed of three structures of a distant between them.

The original nucleus, in time significantly restructured, dates back to the XI century and is the part characterised by the great clock (work of Giuseppe Ravaglia) done install seven centuries later by Pope Pius VI. It was originally a tower to use purely military, erected by the abbot of St Scholastica John V from Farfa on the promontory dominating the Upper Aniene Valley, at the time when the urban core of Subiaco focused on the banks of the river. The complex was originally formed even by a small church dedicated to St Thomas and a triple walls, whose perimeters ricalcavano probably those that are still visible today.

The quadrangular tower facing east constitutes the second body of the factory of the complex. Was erected by cardinal Rodrigo Borgia during the second half of '400. Despite the austere aspect of a donjon (and the "overflow" facts install therein), the bastion soon changed its function: some years after its erection, commendatory Francesco Column commissioned the work of restoration to its interior, aiming to make it an environment of representation.

The last core was commissioned at the end of the eighteenth century by Pope Pius VI (Giovannangelo Braschi), in order to join the two existing structures and definitively change the architectural sense of together: with its building the Rocca substantially loses its military function original to become to all effects a palace of representation. The work was entrusted in 1778 to the architect Peter Camporese, which eliminated the pitfalls, ingentilì surrounding walls, halved the tower borgiana, incorporated the small church in the new structure and instituted the magnificent portal of entry with double staircase, surmounted by the coat of arms Braschi.

Inside the fortress is also hosted the paper and printingMuseum (MACS).

Contact Fortress Abbey

I want to receive the newsletter
  • Castle, fortress

Sleep, eat, buy...

= distances as the crow flies