Italy Porta San Donato

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Sue Wolfe

About this spot
Porta San Donato (aka Porta Zamboni) was one of 12 gates in Bologna’s outer medieval wall known as “The Circla.” It was built on the road to Argenta and Ferrara and was part of a bigger complex that included housing for guards. It takes its name from the nearby church of San Donato.

The gate was built in the 13th century with a drawbridge over the moat to help secure the city from external attacks. In 1500, it was the scene of an important battle between the troops of Pope Julius II and the Republic of Venice.

Porta San Donato has a vaulted passage in the center and is flanked by two towers. The left tower is the oldest with the right tower added in the 14th century. It was walled up in 1428 for security reasons but later reopened. The “attached” wall was removed in 1903 leaving the gate isolated but still standing.

There have been multiple discussions on whether to demolish the gate due to its proximity to the ring boulevard and Via San Donato. In 1959, one meter of the wall was destroyed after a heated debate on how to resolve traffic problems.

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