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The towers of Bologna

The two towers located at the entrance to the city on Via Emilia are Bologna's undisputed landmark: the Asinelli Tower and the Garisenda Tower. During the 12th and 13th centuries, the richest families in the city competed to build towers as symbols of their power and useful urban fortresses during periods of unrest. Today only a few still stand, the survivors of fires, wars and the relentless passing of time. Of them all, the Asinelli and Garisenda Towers are the most prominent and symbolic.

Today they stand alone in the centre of the widest part of the piazza of Porta Ravegnana, but originally they would have been surrounded by external wooden constructions and suspended walkways.

The Asinelli Tower is 97.20 metres tall and was built between 1109 and 1119 by the noble Bolognese family of the same name. The building is open to the public, and visitors can climb its 480 plus steps to the top, to be rewarded by a beautiful view of the city and surrounding hills. On the way up, it is impossible not to be captivated by its architecture of trap doors and wooden ladders, just like a castle.

The nearby Garisenda Tower presents a different appearance. It dates to the same period and was built by the Garisendi family. Originally taller, it developed a dangerous tilt and had to be resized and lowered in the 14th century and now stands just 48 metres high.