Until the first half of the 19th century, San Michele church appeared on the bastion of the walls, dominating the west side of the city.
This ancient foundation dates back to the VII-VIII century. In the Romanesque period, the church, with three naves, was connected with a convent which started to be abandoned in the fifteenth century.
The construction of the new walls in the 16th century led to a partial destruction of the church which was deprived of the front part, preserving only transept and apses. It has acquired a curious shape, immortalized by some 19th century painters, just before this historic building was completely destroyed.
The destruction of this monument, although different from its original appearance, aroused evidently, not only among intellectuals and art historians of the time, but also among artists, an uprising which led to a moral obligation to document the stages of this destruction.
The San Michele monastic complex was sacrificed in the name of public utility.
A competitive port was necessary for the importance of the city in the dawning Italian state.
The whole area of San Michele and San Tommaso Church was affected by these upheavals: railway and maritime infrastructures as well as a better road network were essential to Genoese growing commercial and maritime development.