The dungeons

The various rooms of the underground Priamàr were built throughout the life of the fortress between 1542 and 1943 and belong to different types: the large 16th-century tunnels, almost all of which were closed and walled up in the 17th century; the narrow connecting walkways from 1683; the small counter tunnels; the large rooms under the ramparts from the end of the 17th century; the two cisterns and connecting tunnels of the Maschio and the Citadel; the sorties leading to the sea or to the large outer moat; and finally the large tunnels-air raid shelters from the Second World War.

Some of the tunnels were walled up in the 19th century and have yet to be recovered. At the level of Corso Mazzini and the square in front of the Fortress are the large anti-aircraft shelter-tunnels dug into the rock of the Priamàr hill during the Second World War in 1943: under the Maschio, the private shelter-tunnel of the Ilva steelworks is now used to access the Priamàr lifts and the Baluardo di S. Bernardo. Connected to the gallery is a smaller, contemporary one, dug into the rock to allow the factory workers access to the air-raid shelter. Below the Baluardo di S. Caterina della Cittadella are the two entrances to the long public tunnel-shelter, also built in 1943. The tunnels and underground passages in the upper part of the Fortress have a more limited development, between 20 and 50 metres. Originally, the Fortress had two entrances, the main one leading to the Piazza della Cittadella, the second leading to the Piazza d’Armi del Maschio.

The androne-gallery with direct access to the Maschio (1543) was walled up and buried in 1683 during the works of the third construction phase of the Fortress and reopened only later. In the Maschio moat, beyond the communication bridge between the Citadel and the Maschio, there is access to the seventeenth-eighteenth-century “Sortita S. Anna” which, with a broken profile, descended to the beach. Adjacent to the Polveriera, in the Moat of the Citadel, is the underground communication with the Baluardo di S. Francesco, built at the end of the 18th century to directly reach the Baluardo from inside the Fortress. Also in the Moat of the Citadel is the Sortita della Ss. Concezione, a descending tunnel partly dug into the rock of the Priamàr hill dated 1683, connecting the Moat with the eastern Falsabraga (or semi-bastion) of S. Caterina.From the Baluardo di S. Caterina (St. Catherine’s Bastion) above, a staircase with several ramps leads down to the dungeons below the western falsabraga di S. Caterina (1683); these underground rooms are the largest and most impressive covered rooms in the entire Fortress. Entering from the access staircase, the right wall is the side of the 16th-century Baluardo, while the openings of the ventilation trapdoors are visible on the vault.

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