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Tor Boacciana and Tor San Michele

Tor Boacciana and Tor San Michele
Culture What to do

In Ostia there are two places of historical value, not accessible to visitors but which it is worth to see at least from the outside.

Tor Boacciana

In via Tancredi di Chiaraluce, on the corner with Ponte della Scafa (which links Ostia to Fiumicino crossing the Tiber river), is Tor Boacciana.
It was built in XIII century on the ancient lighthouse of Ostia. This is the most likely hypothesis, considering the remains of the piers of the ancient port of Ostia. The name comes from Cencius Bibazanus, the person who in 1200 built a little fort in Ostia to fight against Riccardo de Conti.

Also Richard Lionheart speaks about this tower in 1190 when he landed here.
Probably at the time it was only a rudimental lookout tower. It was restored in 1406 during the pontificate of pope Innocent VII.
In June 1434 pope Eugene IV, had to abandon Rome and only when he arrived to Tor Boacciana he considered himself safe.

Foto di P. Germoni

After the overflowing of the Tiber in September 1557, which caused the coastline to move 1000 my forward, Tor Boacciana stopped being a lookout tower. This is why Tor San Michele was built.

Tor Boacciana came back to life at the end of the 19 th century, on 12 th August 1894, when Tancredi Chiaraluce, obtains from prince Giuseppe Aldobrandini the permission to rent it. It became a food and beverage point for hunters in this area.

Tor San Michele

The magnificent Tor San Michele is in via degli Atlantici. It is named after pope Pius V (Michele Gisleri) and also in honour of Saint Michael the Archangel.
It was built to defend the area from the Saracen invasions the Castle of Ostia Antica and Tor Boacciana were far too back.

The project of the tower is Michelangelo’s and it contains every possible defensive and offensive tactic of the time.

In August 1859 the tower faced 3 pirate vessels from Tunis which had arrived at the mouth of the Tiber during the night.
The poor conditions of the artillery and a modest cannonades did not stop the pirates. They sank a Greek ship near the mouth and they stole another ship full of goods. Tor San Michele launched the alarm, which was repeated down to Terracina. Here the papal ships commanded by Lercari intercepted the pirates who abandoned the ship and all its goods.

The tower is still in perfect conditions.
It has an heptagon shape. Every side is 18 mt long. It is 18 mt high. It has 3 floors and there is a square on the terrace.

The first two floors externally have a double creasing. The third floor occupies the entire vertical part up to the terrace. There is an opening from the square down to the base of the tower. This creates A sort of natural vent helped by the inclination of the floor of the terrace. This circular well has 8 me of diametre. It gave light and air to the lower floors and it was a dead area where to send the enemy’s ammunitions.

The two lower floors had no windows or slits and so it was extremely safe. In modern times some rectangular windows have been open to favour liveability.

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