The Guinigi's Tower is one of the most important of all ancient archaeological heritages of the city of Lucca.
A tourist can access it easily through Via Santa Andrea.
The tower has been built in brick and stone, and one of its unique features is the presence of oak trees at its top. In the 14th century, Lucca had around 250 towers and some bell towers. All these were located within the walls of the city Lucca or Mura di Lucca. Out of these, only nine towers were left, and "Torre Guinigi" is one of them. Trees at that time symbolized rebirth and the Guinigi family, which were the then masters of the city, commissioned the construction of a tower that had trees on the top. Hence, the tower was also built in the 14th century. Trees were planted onto its top for symbolizing rebirth in the 16th century. The exact date of tower buildup, according to some sources is 1384.
The Guinigi Family
Lucca was independent since 1119. The city was attacked and captured by Castruccio Castracani, a mercenary. After his death, Lucca was ruled by the Guinigi family. Guinigi family was a class of rich silk merchants. They were among the leading business-class families of Lucca at that time and had a number of mansions that were located near and in between Via Guinigi and Via Santa Andrea. The mansions and towers of this era are examples of Romanesque-Gothic Architecture that prevailed in the city of Lucca at that time. The tower was built during the 14th century.
The Tower or Torre Guinigi rises towards the sky at Via Santa Andrea. It was an emblem of prosperity and prestige and was built to give a more refined look to the area and families giving there. The same cultural-architectural trend was also followed in other cities of Italy including Pisa, Florence and Sienna and people build towers to signify wealth and prosperity.
Torre Guingi has a height of around 44.25 meters and is located at the corner of Via Golden Keys and Via Santa Andrea. To reach the top of the tower you have to climb 230 steps and 25 stair flights. Climbing the tower is very easy initially. Later it becomes difficult as only metal ramps of very small size replace the stairs. The tower has numerous priceless paintings that belong to the ancient times. From the top, you can get the unique and beautiful view of Apuan Alps (located in north-west), Piazza Amphitheatre, Apennine Mountains (located in the north-east) and Mount Pisano (located on the southern side). Brick has been used for building the tower. It also has three and four light windows that are decorated with plaques (ornamental tablets made of wood, porcelain or metals), cornices (ornamental moldings on walls) and arms.
The top of the tower has the famous hanging garden. It has seven trees of Oak that have been planted in the box-filled earth. The exact age of the hanging garden is still now known. The earlier images that were found in Giovanni Sercambi Chronicles that belong to the 16th century show the planted trees of the tower. Hence, it can be said that the garden goes back many centuries, however, the oaks now on the tower have been replanted.
The Lucca provincial government and the town council today own the tower that has been gifted to the government by the descendants of the ancient Guinigi family. The towers offer you a wholesome view of the city, to the surrounding mountains and other areas. The Holm oaks provide a refreshing shelter on top of the unique Roman architecture and make you think about life and rebirth, issues that were searched and probed upon in the 13th century as well.