Piazza Grande, also known as Piazza Napoleone, holds importance in the history. The square that holds the structure (also called as Fortress Augusta) has always been a political point and center of political power. It is now also the main square of the Italian city Lucca.
The square has served as a power center for centuries and was built by Castruccio Castracani Of Antelminelli, the lord of the city Lucca, who was elected to power in the year 1320. The architect who designed Piazza Grande was Giotto or Giotto Di Bondone, in the 13th century. Apart from the beautiful and artistic square, Giotto also designed the palace of Castruccio Castracani at the same spot. The fortified center of power of the city was very huge and occupied a fifth of the city’s area. It was from this place that Castruccio held power and exercised it before dying in the year 1328.
Demolitions and Re-Build
From then onwards many foreign powers ruled over the city. The fortress and power center was robust and strong enough to repel sieges and attacks. The fortress stood strong when John of Bohemia and Castruccio’s descendants laid the siege of Lucca in the year 1333. Later the center was seen as a symbol and source of foreign power and tyranny by the local inhabitants of the city. Hence, the council-of-elders of the city Lucca gave orders for its demolition. The center was destroyed completely in the year 1370 by a popular uprising.
Paolo Guinigi, who ruled Lucca during the 14th century, restored the center’s beauty (it was not truly demolished during the uprising), and it was hence called Citadel Of Lucca. The citadel was built comprehensively, and all its defense capabilities were restored. The center was once again destroyed when Paolo Guingi fell from power in the year 1429.
After the lordship of Paolo Guingi had ended, Fort Augusta or the citadel was used as a public building and was redesigned and rebuilt by Bartolommeo Ammannati. It was home to Duchess of the city Lucca by the name Elisa Baclocchi. Later it was used by the government of the city and the state until Italy united in the 19th century. It is now known by the name Palazzo Ducale and is located in the province of Lucca.
Artistic Build and Elegant Beautification
The fortress and power center Piazza Grande or Piazza Napoleone has 4 gates and 29 towers. One of its sides is attached to the walls of the city. The power corridors were located inside the corridors and housed the main building, its portico, the building of city’s lord, private chapels, a well for water and some residential areas.
Palazzo Ducale occupies the western side of Piazza Napoleone. Its present appearance is owed to Bartolomeo Ammannati, who did the first restructuring of the monument in the year 1578. The right wing was added o the structure by Francescoo Pini in the year 1728. Lorenzo Nottolini also did some artistic contribution son the structure in the 19th century. The central portal of the Palazzo Ducale (done by Ammannati Pini) leads to a central courtyard that is not finished and is huge. You will find here the statue of Francesco Carrara, made by Augusto Passagalia. At the left, you will find the Swiss courtyard as Swiss Guards served here in the 12th century. The courtyard was built by Ammannati. The staircase will lead to boardrooms designed by Nottolini from where the current administration of the current Lucca province operates. The national art gallery and museum are also located here. Many trees were planted to hide the buildings facades as they were not pleasing to the eyes. It was also decided to install a Napoleon statue here. Later the statue of Maria-Luisa, the Duchess of Lucca, was installed.
The center that has seen many cultural and political upheavals and uprisings are now the heart of Lucca’s cultural life. The attractive and spacious settings are prime concert destinations also.