Pictures of Italy: Palmanova

The symmetrical and precise layout of Palmanova makes it a completely unique town. It was designed with the idea of a utopia in mind, but the reality has been far from perfect…


Tucked away in the northeastern tip of Italy, 20km from Udine, is Palmanova – a citadel founded by the Republic of Venice in 1593 which was designed as a revolutionary new kind of settlement. The fortress plan and structure is called a star fort, due to its shape with nine pointed edges. Initially the town was surrounded by a moat and entry was only possible through one of the three guarded gates on the outer edge.

Palmanova was greatly influenced by the Renaissance period in which it was constructed and was built following the ideals of a utopia. Key to this was the idea of equality, therefore each addition was carefully calibrated so that each person would have the same amount of responsibility and land. Unfortunately, the original idea of establishing a completely self-sustained fortress fell on its head as skilled workers couldn’t be convinced to move despite the pristine conditions and elegant layout.

Eventually it was filled with pardoned criminals who were given free building lots as an incentive to settle the town. In 1960, Palmanova was declared a national monument but the town remains quiet and is still guarded to this day.