The ancient name of Pietra Ligure was La Pietra , and referred to the imposing calcareous rock that is found to the east of the historical center, above which the Roman castrum was built. The castle, enlarged in the period of the barbarian and Saracen invasions (6th-9th century), was a bishop ‘s property and reached its present size in the 16th century. It is believed that this natural barrier, easily defensible, constituted a border point between the Byzantines and the Lombards .
The Byzantine castrum was probably destroyed by King Rotari, but in the same site the medieval castle, stronghold of the bishops of Albenga, was built in the 12th century , subject then to frequent attacks by the Del Carrettos of Finale . To the west of the castle a hamlet developed, surrounded by turreted walls and endowed with five gates: the port of the marina protected by a bastion to the south, the gate of Santa Caterina near the homonymous rural oratory to the north, the door of the porch protected by the tower of via Rocca Crovara and the royal gate to the west, the door to the slaughterhouse to the east. After various vicissitudes, the village was definitively ceded by Pope Urban VI to Genoa , in 1385 , and acquired considerable importance as an advanced point of the Republic between the Finale and Loano , fiefdom of the Doria .
The castle remained the property of the bishops of Albenga, who sold it to the Arnaldo at the end of the fourteenth century . It then passed into the possession of other patrician families and was enlarged in 1550 with the addition of a wing facing south-west, an arch in the eastern part in addition to the two sentry boxes. Due to the Saracen raids the upper square was armed with two large cannons, which were sent back to Genoa at the end of the 18th century in view of the French invasion. The medieval part, at the end of the fifties of the twentieth century , has been restored and transformed into a meeting place. The solid masonry resting directly on the rock, the impervious position, the vaulted passages and the low rooms of the dungeons known as “Grimaldina”, due to the fact that two Grimaldi brothers from Monaco were imprisoned there at the end of the fourteenth century, justify the importance of the castle exercised in the local defense system.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.