The Great Wall of Verona

The great wall

The Great Wall of Verona. Few Veronese knows it, but also in Verona existed a “Great Wall” similar (on a small much smaller scale) to the Chinese one. In fact, they built in the thirteenth century, even before the strengthening of the Ming section of the Chinese Great Wall.

In Verona, they called it “Serraglio” . A word that comes from the vulgar Latin serrāculum from serāre (“lock-up, close”), and from serà (“to lock, to bolt”).

It served to protect the Veronese lordship from raids by the Milanese and the Mantuans. Also the Serraglio consisted of a high crenelated curtain about 18 km long and about 16 m high. It was interspersed with 200 towers about 100 meters away.

Moreover it was protected by a moat, with a wall on average 12 meters wide and 3 meters deep. When needed they flooded it with the waters of the Tione river. In the original project, they planned an extension of another 15 kilometers. But then for lack of funds and an extended area of marshes, they stop it. When the wall was running along the river, they used the riverbed instead.  Times were hard, and it was a remarkable work of engineering of the fortifications. A branch in which the Italians in Europe were specialists. Until the rise of powerful artillery capable of demolishing walls.

Serraglio

The state of Verona had therefore identified in the course of the river Tione the perfect boundary line towards the Mantuan. A decision that led in 1185 to the foundation and fortification of Villafranca. Where today stands an international airport and the ruins of two mighty castles. 

In addition to prevent attacks from Milan, Brescia, and Mantua. They built the defensive castles and bridges on the Mincio River, Valeggio Sul Mincio, Villafranca, Custoza, and Sona. To service the Serraglio. Starting in 1284, Alberto I della Scala strengthened those fortresses, adding the fortification of the village of Borghett. And preparing, based on the pre-existing system the Serraglio joining all of them together. The works began in 1345 with Mastino II Della Scala. But were interrupted in 1349 because of the plague and resumed in 1353; Cangrande II completed it.

Today only the castles remain and low ruins of the Great Wall, hidden by the foliage and cut by the passage of the roads.

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