The Old Citadel (Cittadella Vecchia) is an ancient fortress built on the Arno river, in Pisa, where, a few hundreds years ago, it was the outer wall of the city.
Near the Citadel, it was the Republican Arsenal, where the ships of the Marine Republic of Pisa were built, ships that contributed to the city’s rise as a Mediterranean power in the Medieval times.
At the beginning of the 15th century, the shipyard was enlarged and transformed to what will be later known as the Old Citadel, in opposition to the New Citadel (Cittadella Nuova), built in 1440 on the other side of the city. About the same time, the Guelph Tower (Torre Guelfa) was built.
At the beginning of the 1900s, the area was called Piazza d’Armi and housed the 7th Artillery Regiment divisions, the 22nd Infantry Regiment and a small theater.
In 1944, during the Second World War, the whole area was badly damaged by bombing, and the citadel along with the Guelph Tower were completely destroyed, with the exception of the Republican Arsenal.
In 1956, the tower was rebuilt and the area of the citadel was recovered, after a project of Giovanni Michelucci.
Today, the Guelph Tower is open to public, and from its top you can enjoy a splendid view of the city. Also, in the ruins of the citadel, you can find a museum dedicated to the Festival of Luminara di San Ranieri. Even the Republican Arsenal have been restored and is opened for certain events.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Citadel is near the Bridge of the Citadel (Ponte della Cittadella), about 1.1 kilometers from Pisa Centrale train station. The closest bus station is S. Paolo a Ripa D’Arno, 350 meters away from the Citadel, on the opposite bank of the Arno River, that can be reached with the buses 6 or 21. If you would like to get to the citadel on foot and you need the exact directions, use the map below.