Specola Tower 1817/1820

The Torre della Specola is located within the perimeter of the walls of Fort Castellaccio at the southern end of its forecourt. It is accessed via the entrance ramp to the fort itself, past the moat over which there was originally a drawbridge and a partly preserved square stone portal.
The tower was built between 1817 and 1820, on the promontory where executions had been carried out for centuries, in order to make it an autonomous fortified complex with a wall and a parade ground. In 1836, the tower was definitively incorporated into the walls of the new Castellaccio fortress, of which it became an integral element for all strategic and functional purposes. Used with the fortress as a prison for the most dangerous prisoners throughout the last century, it was particularly familiar to the Genoese of the past generation for the cannon shot at noon on the dot from its gunboat directed towards the city.

Mappa Torre Specola

The building has three floors: the ground floor used as a powder magazine, the ground floor with the access, nowadays masked, facing the city and the first floor with a thick bomb-proof vault. All the floors, including the armed terrace, communicate vertically with a series of shafts, probably intended for the dispatch of ammunition, powders and anything else necessary for the various levels.
The structure, made entirely of brick, is articulated on six massive central pillars from which the ribs of the vaults radiate towards the thick surfaces of the walls.
All the structural elements contribute to accentuating the feeling of power and aggressiveness of the architecture.
On the outside, the southern side has four large machicolations on the crown, corresponding to the same number of contiguous sides of the perimeter, which protect the entrance and the embrasures below.
The other four sides, on the other hand, have only the openings corresponding to the gunports on the two floors centred between the constant pair of oblique slits. Many of the structural and decorative elements present in the Specola Tower (vaulted arches, grilles, wall texture, etc.) are to be found in Fort Begato.
The construction of the Torre della Specola was contemporary with the construction of the seven round towers outside the New Walls which, facing the same number of bastions, take their name. The best preserved is the Tower of San Bernardino, currently owned by the municipality, which allows us to understand in detail the architectural values of these structures. Higher up, going towards the Castellaccio, you can recognise the ruins of the Towers of San Erasmo and San Simone in front of the walls of the same name.

Piantina Torre Specola

(Taken from “I forti di Genova” Sagep Editrice)