The Castelfranco fort is situated on the Gottaro hill, the promontory dividing the Sciusa and Pora valleys, in a strategic location enabling the control of the coast from Caprazoppa to San Donato Cape. The building, dating back to the second half of the 14th century, underwent ups and downs: it was destroyed, reconstructed, enlarged and reduced in size again. Today it is star shaped, and stands very close to the centre of Finale at about 26 meters above sea level.
The first war between the Marquis’ Del Carretto and the Republic of Genoa broke out in the first half of the 14th century, during the conflict between Guelphs and Ghibellines. The war was won in 1341 by the Republic, which decided to build a mighty fortress – Castelfranco – with the aim of creating a bridgehead inside the possessions of the Marquis’, who repeatedly tried to conquer it. The clash did not come to an end even after the bloody war between Genoa and Finale (recorded by Gian Mario Filelfo) which brought the destruction of Borgo and of the central tower of Castelfranco in 1448. The castle suffered additional demolition in 1558 (rebellion against Alfonso II) and in 1564.
After being restored, it became the residence of Baron Beccaria, the representative of the Empire, who in 1602 handed it over to Spain. The Spaniards made Castelfranco the pivot of their defensive system: between 1652 and 1645 a powerful belt of forts and bastions (named Annunziata, San Antonio, Concezione and Mezzaluna now destroyed) was erected. Other works were carried out under the direction of engineer Beretta between 1674 and 1677, and finally the Legnì fort was built in 1681. It was a square fort with four bastions, a ditch and a covered walkway. Genoa was finally able to occupy the Finale territory in the 18th century after the Spanish War of Succession and the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). The Gavone Castle was pulled down in 1714. As for Castelfranco, only the Mezzaluna bastion and the central medieval octagonal tower of San Bartolomeo escaped destruction. Castelfranco was still a fortress in 1745, when it pushed back the attack of fourteen English ships.
In the last century it underwent many changes while under the rule of the Kingdom of Sardinia it was first used as a prison and then as the infirmary of the jail. On the bulwarks facing the sea, St. Andrea and St. Pietro, the De Raimondi villas were built.
The 19th century inner constructions were demolished after World War II.The castle has belonged to the Municipality of Finale Ligure since 9th March 1938.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.