From the Middle Ages, the high rocky promontory where Livorno castle stood overlooking a wide expanse of sea was a strategic point for the defence of the entrance to Porto Pisano. Its unique, commanding position between the settlement and the sea was conducive to its development as a favoured site for defence of the area. First the Pisans, and then the Florentines chose this site to direct port activities, and over time erected a series of fortified works which are still embedded within the walls of the Fortezza Vecchia. It was Antonio da Sangallo the Elder who drew up the plans for the fort under the supervision of his brother, Giuliano. It was built between 1519 and 1533 with the aid of an array of expert engineers. The fort is a capacious, enveloping structure with irregular, unusual architectural lines. The original geometric shape, as deduced from treatises, was modified and shaped to account for the nature of the site and pre-existing medieval structures.
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