Porta Soprana

The Porta Soprana was the gateway to the city for whoever arrived in Genoa from the east. It dominated the hill of St. Andrew, which takes its name from the monastery demolished in the 19th century to build the Via Dante and the building that currently houses the Bank of Italy. The two towers framing the access to the Porta Soprana still bear two gravestones in Latin commemorating the glories of Genoa.

New city walls were built in the 12th century to defend the independence of the Republic of Genoa from the expansionist aims of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
The walls enclosed the three areas of the city: the castrum, which developed on the hill of the Castle; the civitas, built around the cathedral of St. Lorenzo, and the burgus, the area of the businesses around the monastery of St. Siro. The vast majority of the inhabitants took part – both financially and physically – in the construction of the walls, called “of Barbarossa”, which were completed very quickly, between 1155 and 1159. Further, the construction of the three gates with two towers was completed in 1161: the Porta Soprana, also known as the gate of St. Andrew due to the adjacent monastery, the Porta Aurea, and the Porta di Santa Fede.
The Porta Soprana is one of the major medieval stone architecture in Genoa. It was erected at the top of the Plain of St. Andrew, not far from the hill of the same name, which had been paved in the early 19th century. Its name, Soprana, stems from its position, raised as compared to the city. When the gate lost its primarily defensive role and the city walls were expanded, from the 14th century the gate was absorbed by the building development, leading to the construction of the Ponticello district. In 19th century, the two towers were used as a prison – the “Prison of the Tower” – just like the nearby monastery of St. Andrew.
The present building, however, is the result of substantial restorations under the direction of Alfredo D’Andrade between 1882 and 1914. In the 1930s, after the demolition of the Ponticello district, the south tower was restored under the direction of Orlando Grosso, who had promoted the commitment of the Municipality in the protection and restoration of monuments since the early 1920s.
The appearance of the gate is most likely the same it had when it was rebuilt during the construction of the so-called Walls of Barbarossa. A long inscription on the wall of the entrance arch addresses the citizens who pass through the gate, reading: “I am guarded by soldiers, surrounded by beautiful walls and with my value, I cast away the darts of the enemies. If you bring peace, you may approach this gate; if you seek war, you shall return sad and beaten".