The “Rocca” (fortress), or perhaps better say “Rocche” (fortresses), are actually two: the major and the minor, sinuously connected by XIV Century walls. These fortresses are considered admirable examples of military architecture, both because of their majesty and because of the spectacular effect that visitors can directly enjoy during the ascent. The breath-taking view from the top of the building is also really worth noticing.
For what concerns the Major Fortress, it was built on the remains of a Roman citadel or, perhaps, on an ancient place of pagan worship. The fortress was first mentioned in 1173/1174, and it seems that had also hosted Federico I (Barbarossa) and Federico II – when he was still a child.
Destroyed in 1198 during a popular uprising, Cardinal Albornoz had it rebuilt on the original plant for the benefit of the Pope in 1356: the walls, erected in a trapezoidal structure, are accompanied by angular towers and a donjon, with a high square tower of the Mastio.
In 1360 the Minor Fortress was ultimately added, in order to defend the north-eastern corner of the walls towards the mountain. Finally, in 1459-1460 (during the pontificate of Pio II), the polygonal tower in north-western area was erected and connected to the Major Fortress by a fortified corridor.
The visit of the Major fortress is extremely interesting: although the secret passages handed down by legends can only be imagined, the view of the city and the Umbrian valley from the top of the tower is simply wonderful.