City fortifications of Tirano

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The city ​​fortifications of Tirano are the former fortifications of the city of Tirano in the Italian province of Sondrio , Lombardy region , which completely encompassed the historic city from the end of the late Middle Ages to the beginning of the early modern period . The city walls only existed as a structural unit for a very short time of around 20 years. Three of the four city gates are well preserved to this day.


The Tirano settlement developed on the left bank of the Adda River below Dosso Castle, first mentioned in 1073 . Tirano was a free municipality in the 12th century. Later Tirano was subordinate to the Capitanei von Stazzona , which also had the Castello Piattamala built at the transition from the Poschiavo to the Valtellina . Subsequently, Tirano was then also subject to the Diocese of Como .

Since 1486 the Drei Bünde tried to gain control over the Valtellina and other adjacent valleys. In 1487 the largely unfortified Tirano was stormed by the Graubünden people , who presumably also destroyed Dosso Castle and parts of Tirano.

Ludovico il Moro initiated the construction and expansion of the city fortifications of Tirano. It was based on plans by Giovanni Francesco Sanseverino a curtain wall and the Castello Santa Maria (also: Castellaccio ) built 1492/1493. According to some authors, the plan for the fortifications should come from the ducal builder Ambrogio Ferrari , according to others from Leonardo da Vinci . The construction was carried out by the engineer Giovanni Antonio Amadeo , who also strengthened the Castello Piattamala. The curtain wall of Tirano was broken by three gates in the city and the entrance via the Castello Santa Maria.

In 1512 Tirano (and the three valleys Chiavenna , Valtellina and Bormio) was conquered again by the Graubünden in the course of the Milan wars, and most of the fortifications were subsequently razed . The people of Graubünden made a podium in Tirano and opened a cattle and goods market that was important up to the Lake Constance region and that existed for centuries (see Via Valtellina ). From 1512 to 1620 and from 1639 to 1798, the Valtellina with Tirano as a place facing it was part of the Old Confederation and was under the control of the Three Leagues ( Graubünden ).

A recapture and a dam (Letzi) in the direction of Switzerland (Graubünden) to lock the Poschiavo to the Valtellina were considered, but not implemented. According to tradition, the church of San Rocco at the entrance of the Poschiavo was to be built as a small fortress in 1526 or 1531 by order of Gian Giacomo Medici (nephew of Pope Pius IV ) in order to subsequently control the Valtellina or Valchiavenna and thus to regain this part of Graubünden. Gian Giacomo Medici had sent an envoy to Tirano disguised as a monk to convince the population to build a church dedicated to the patron saint of plague victims. In reality, however, a small military base was to be built. The inhabitants of Tirano recognized the intention after the construction began and blocked further construction and expelled the alleged monk. San Rocco was only completed as a church at a later date by the residents of Tirano with the financial contribution of the Salis family.

In 1531 the statutes of Valtellina ( Statuti di Valtellina ) were issued in order to secure the territories for the Grisons in the long term . Chiavenna and Bormio and others received their own statutes through which the autonomy status for each area was determined separately and differently.


The Poschiavino is a 30 km long right tributary of the Adda . Most of the river runs through the Poschiavo ( Italian Val Poschiavo ) in Switzerland and only about 3 km in Italy (Valtellina). Tirano is located in the Valtellina on the Adda and coming from the north-west the Poschiavo or Poschavino flows into the Adda. The surrounding terrain is hilly.


Porta Bormina
Porta Poschiavina
Porta Milanese
Castello Santa Maria
Torre Torelli


The fortifications led from Castello Santa Maria across the slope through undeveloped area to Porta Bormina in the north-east. From there north to the Adda. Along the Adda, taking advantage of the natural protection of the river, the city wall ran to the south-west, interrupted only by the Porta Poschiavina, up to the height of the castle. From here the curtain wall rose again to the south to the castle and was only broken through by the Porta Milanese in the lower area. The walls were supplemented with at least 10 square defense towers. Three of them can still be seen (Porta Poschiavina, Porta Milanese, square tower at Castello Santa Maria).

Passages / gates

The former entrances (gates) to the city fortifications of Tirano are open, gates or portcullis no longer exist. These passages are in relatively good condition and are used daily. They are:

Porta Bormina

World icon The Porta Bormina ( Porta Bormina sull'alta valle , about 452  m slm ) blocked the road towards Bormio and the Stilfser Joch ( Passo dello Stelvio ). Only remnants remain of this passage into the city. It is assumed that the round arch visible today with wedged rubble stones is a later reconstruction.

Porta Poschiavina

World icon The Porta Poschiavina (named by the Poschiavino river) is a square tower and is now integrated into the surrounding buildings. Through the Porta Poschiavina ( Porta Poschiavina sul Bernina , about 440  m slm ), through two consecutive round arches and a gate hall with groin vault , the connection to Graubünden was made over the old bridge (over the Adda). On the side of the tower facing towards the city, the groove of the portcullis can still be seen. The visible frescoes date from the 15th century. B. two figures of the wild man .

Porta Milanese

World icon Through the Porta Milanese ( Porta Milanese sulla media valle , about 435  m slm ) the road leads to Como and the Passo dell'Aprica and on to Milan ( Italian: Milano ). The passage has kept its original appearance very well to this day. The original structure is still visible today, with the arched exterior opening and the staircase leading to the upper floor. The passage has an arched gate on the side facing out of town. The gate hall itself has a groin vault. On the side facing into the city there is a flat arch . A narrow slot for a portcullis and a cast hole in the top of the archway can still be seen.

Castello Santa Maria

World icon The fourth access to the city, via the Castello Santa Maria ( Porta Santa Maria sul castello ), can no longer be used today. Via del Castagneti passes the castle.

The connection of the city walls of Tirano 441  m slm to the hillside castle Castello Santa Maria 480  m slm was made by side walls. Castle and city fortifications formed a common defense system, as z. B. can also be seen in Germany in Hirschhorn am Neckar , Königsberg in Bavaria , Pappenheim in Franconia or in Burghausen in Upper Bavaria .


The costs for the fortification, which was originally intended to serve the whole of the middle Valtellina, had to be borne proportionally by all places between Grosotto and Sondrio to Morbegno .

Torre Torelli

The Torre Torelli in Via della Repubblica is not a historical defense structure and not part of the city fortifications. It is about a building with which Luigi Torelli wanted to make his claim to political rule in Tirano visible around 1810 . This five-storey tower , in the style of historicism ( neo-Gothic style in the romantic era ), is provided with a battlement wreath and dovetail battlements (merlatura), but without any military-strategic significance.


  • E. Pedrotti, Gli xenodochi di San Remigio e di Santa Perpetua , 1957
  • M. Gianasso, Guida turistica della provincia di Sondrio , 1979
  • Flavio Conti, Vincenzo Hybsch, Antonello Vincenti: I castelli della Lombardia , Province di Como, Sondrio e Varese, Novara 1991 (vol 2), p. 136.

Web links

Commons : City fortifications of Tirano  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e Puschlav - Valtellina Excursion report from the Swiss Castle Association.
  2. Johann Samuel Heinfius: Historical and Political-Geographic Atlas of the whole world, Edition Leipzig 1749, S. 1370. google books .
  3. TIRANO l'aquila sul castello .
  4. a b c La Cinta muraria di Tirano e 'Castellaccio' , website:
  5. a b c Tirano and "Castellaccio" surrounding walls , website:
  6. La Chiesa di San Rocco a Tirano , website:, last accessed on November 27, 2018.
  7. TIRANO l'aquila sul castello .