In the first decades of the thirteenth century the inhabitants of the valley along the river Aterno up to the slopes of the Gran Sasso and the cliffs of Lucoli were organized, in anti-feudal key, to found a city on the hill between the territories of the dioceses of Amiterno and Forcona..

Amiternum, a Roman city a few kilometers from L’Aquila, straddling the river Aterno, still retains important monuments – theater and amphitheater- civil and remains of urban villas and sacred buildings.

Forcona, is an archaeological site in the eastern part of the city, near Civita di Bagno, represented by an important sacred building, perhaps a federated temple, served by baths and healthy waters coming from the mountain above. It is still possible to see the imposing remains of the foundations. .

The city of L’Aquila was born in the historical moment of greatest friction between papal and imperial power that from the beginning tried to claim the foundation.

In 1259, always because of the disagreements between the papacy and the Swabians, Manfred, son of Frederick II and last ruler of the Kingdom of the two Sicilies of the Swabian house, destroys the first building of L’Aquila of which no traces remain except for some portions of walls below the church of San Flaviano.

In 1256 Pope Alexander IV suppressed the diocese of Forcona which was transferred to L’Aquila along with Saint Maximus of Aveia – another Roman city ten kilometers from L’Aquila below the present-day village of Fossa- whose remains were transferred to the church of Massimo and Giorgio, then Duomo of the city and partially destroyed by the earthquake of 2009.

With the arrival of Charles of Anjou from France and the death of Manfred in the battle fought at Benevento in 1266 between Angevins and Swabians, the reconstruction of the city was started with the support of D’Angiò.

The foundation was attended by almost all villages and castles – tradition says that they were 99- of the valley and the surrounding mountains, Each building within the long circuit walls their own church and square and inurbando the inhabitants from the original places.

The city was equipped with walls and quadrangular towers, doors facing each side and monumental doors and built the beautiful Fountain of 99 pipes in 1272 to imperishable memory of that foundation that had transformed the farmers and artisans of the villages in men free from barons and lords.

Precisely this freedom produced a government chosen by the citizens who appointed their own Captain who had his domicile at the Captain’s Palace to which the Civic Tower that in the sixteenth century became the Palace of Margaret. daughter of Charles V of Habsburg, and governor of the same city and the Farnesian possessions in Abruzzo.

In 1294, in the midst of the papal crisis, the hermit Pietro dal Morrone was crowned Pope in the city under the name of Celestine V.

The coronation took place in the important church of Santa Maria di Collemaggio, commissioned a few years before by Pietro dal Morrone himself after the Madonna appeared to him in that place, not far from the city.


After his death the body of the Pope, after several difficulties, was buried in the church of Collemaggio within a splendid monumental tomb.

Also in 1294, during the brief pontificate of Celestine V, the Bull of Pardon was issued which gave the church of Collemaggio the privilege of the remission of sins, under certain conditions, on the day of August 29, the feast of Saint John the Baptist.

It is considered by many to be the first Jubilee of the Catholic Church that is repeated every year in the city.

In the XIV and XV centuries the city grew and entered fully into the history not only of the Kingdom of Naples of which it was part, but of the whole Peninsula.

Market town, production – wool and saffron, silver and stone- of traders alacri and nobility of sword.

It was the scene of commercial dynamics, but also of bloody politics that saw important families fight and die.

So much so that in 1444 Bernardino da Siena was invited by the city bishop to try to reconcile the warring factions in the city. On 20 May of the same year Bernardino died in L’Aquila and was consecrated to him years later the Basilica of San Bernardino, one of the most beautiful monuments of the city and was buried there in a splendid funeral monument of artistic production L’Aquila.

Before that date, in 1423/24, the city suffered a long siege by the Lord of Perugia Braccio Fortebraccio da Montone.

The long war, which saw the Pope, the Queen of Naples and some of the greatest Lords and leaders of the Peninsula, strengthened the fame of L’Aquila that thanks to his people contributed to the defeat and death of Braccio.

1529 was the year that everything changed for the history, freedom, economy and society of the city of L’Aquila.

After complex historical and political events, which saw Spanish interests intertwined, gathered under the Empire of Charles V of Habsburg – lord of Austria and other provinces- and the French who always claimed the Kingdom of Naples, Aquila was stripped of its freedom and its countryside, that original territory that had allowed its birth, growth and wealth.

With the birth of the Deputy Kingdom of Naples, entrusted to a Deputy King, L’Aquila was enfeoffed and suffered the fate of a city suffocated by a governor sent from Naples.

In those years was erected the Spanish Fortress, vulgarly the Castle, impregnable and militarily advanced fortress that represented the symbol of Spanish repression towards the virtues of the city

The XVI and XVII centuries passed between attempts to claim and annihilation of the economy and city politics, but they saw the participation of the city in those religious and artistic renovations that characterized those centuries as the affirmation of the baroque and the birth of new religious orders.

The last gasp of glory was the settlement in L’Aquila of Madama Margherita, daughter of the Emperor, who came to govern the city from 1569 and who represented a renewed sense of importance. Madama settled in the ancient Palazzo del Capitano which was completely renovated for the occasion and which became the center of an articulated and brilliant court until Margherita’s death in 1586.

1703 was the year of the disastrous earthquake that almost completely destroyed the city and halved its population with about three thousand deaths.

Earthquakes have often hit the city over the centuries because of its seismic territory rich in faults: the last is that of 2009 which caused 309 victims.

After the earthquake the city was rebuilt under a new architectural style baroque churches and palaces according to the new fashion.

Sometimes Renaissance architecture has dressed up with new articulations and decorative artifices, but protecting the classicism of cloisters, courtyards and urban areas.