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Porta all’Arco - Etruscan gateway

  • Porta all’Arco - Etruscan gateway

    The Porta all’Arco, the Arched Gate, is the best-preserved Etruscan gateway in Italy, dating from the 4th century BC. Although probably inspired by Mesopotamian architecture, the gateway was partially remodelled by the Romans in the 1st century BC. The Roman vaulting rests on massive Etruscan bases and is the only surviving part of the Etruscan walls. The vaulted gateway is carved out of huge rectangular stone blocks and surmounted by three mysterious carved basalt heads. These weathered heads probably represent Etruscan or Roman gods. One popular theory has it that the gods represented the guardians of Volterra, cast in the form of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, trade and the arts, existed in Etruscan mythology as `Menrva’.

    The Etruscans were expert builders. From what remains of the cit¬ies, there was enough to impress Ro¬man and Ren¬ais¬sance architects. Volterra is exceptional in retaining Etruscan remains above ground, from the so-called “city of the living.” Like all Etruscan cities, Volterra followed the contours of the land and sited the necropolis below the city walls and the living city above. If cities of the dead predominate today, it is by accident and not by design. This magnificent stone gateway survived where other public buildings, constructed of wood and clay, did not.

    Address: Porta all’Arco, via Porta all’Arco, Volterra
    Web: www.volterratur.it

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