Forte di Santa Tecla
Santa Tecla Fort Santa Tecla fort
Near the Porto Vecchio at Sanremo, was used as a prison until just a few years ago. With its entrance shaded by a small garden of maritime pines, it is an interesting example of an 18th century Ligurian military fortification. It owes its current name to the fact that a reliquary of Saint Thecla was placed during the laying of the first stone, although it was originally called the Fortezza San Giorgio (Fort St. George). The Genoese Republic, which for centuries had been opposing the naval and trade aspirations of Sanremo, built the fort following a popular arising by the people of Sanremo who, after the War of Austrian Succession, had wanted to become part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The response of the Genoese Republic was a violent one, with the construction of the fort intended not so much to defend the town and the port as to menace the rebel populace with an artillery threat. After two earlier unsuccessful attempts, the design of the military engineer Giacomo De Sicre was approved in 1753, for a total cost of around 70,000 Genoese lire, with the first stone being laid on July 6th, 1754 without the attendance of the people, as the process of building the fort was to involve the demolition of numerous houses. The Fort was erected on a triangular plan, with a rampart towards the sea and the corner work towards the town, comprising two half-ramparts separated by a long curtain wall from which a multitude of artillery units threatened the town. Within, the ground floor contained the chapel in the centre of the courtyard, the storerooms, water tank and the commander’s residence; the first floor housed the soldiers’ and staff quarters, with the powder store in the old 16th century tower which had been incorporated into the fort; the second level contained the quarters for the bombardiers and artillerymen, the commanders, the infantry and the warehouse. The fortress was erected in just eleven months, and was completed on March 12th 1756.In 1796 it was captured unopposed by the invading armies of Napoleon; considering them liberators from centuries of Genoese oppression, the population rejoiced, tearing down part of the bastions which impeded access to the port.With the Restoration of 1815, the Liguria region became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and the fort acted as a barracks for the Savoy infantry and later, in 1835, for the Bersaglieri (light-infantrymen).From 1864 to 1997 it was used as a remand prison, with only two interruptions, namely from 1915-1918 when it was a base for seaplanes, and during the German occupation of 1943-1945, when it became a munitions depot.After the prison was transferred elsewhere, the Santa Tecla Fort was assigned to the Liguria region Architectural and Environmental Heritage Office, and latterly was acquired by the local council, which is restoring and renovating it to house a museum and exhibitions.