Gerosolimitana stands in all its greatness in Piazza Matteotti, in the
core of Sant’Elpidio a Mare. The tower is 28m high and a side length of
was built in the XIV century with the help of Cavalieri Gerosolimitani,
better known as Cavalieri di Malta. It is an important monument because
thanks to its square base it is unique in Le Marche military Architecture.
lot of historians are trying to understand the symbolic and functional
implications of the tower. Medieval architecture in fact, and especially
the one linked to cultured orders such as Cavalieri di Malta, was often
rich in symbolic value often hidden in the proportion of its elements.
Historians have for example found out that tracing the diagonals of the
basis of the Gerosolimitana tower, the outcome is a Maltese Cross.
octagonal white cross is the symbol of the Order. It also appears on the
East side of the tower, just above the clock that was added in XVII
Century. The eight-pointed cross,
white on black background represents the Eight Theological Beatitudes
according to Saint Matthew’s Gospel. It was adopted as symbol for the
‘San Giovanni Chivalric and Monastic Order’ when Gerardo Sasso founded
the hospital of Amalfi in Jerusalem. When S. Giovanni order changed its
name into “Sovereign Military Order of Malta” the cross was called
outside and inside of the tower seem to be contrasting. The outside
perimeter is absolutely linear, the inside instead is articulated in
different levels, but without a clear division into storeys.
entrance is on the ground floor. This is a novelty in Military
Architecture, gates in fact presented a greater height difference with the
ground floor. Among the tiles of the floor a trap-door can be detected. It
leads to an underground floor covered in vaulted ceiling.
narrow staircase leads straight to the top of the tower. It was anciently
set between the perimetrical wall and an high parapet. The passage has now
been opened on one side to allow to see the inside structure from above.
Historians believe that it represented a mystic ascent towards God helped
just by the light coming from the scarce loopholes. Such a belief stresses
the symbolic and spiritual implications of the tower. It was anyway used
also as watchtower for its closeness to the Adriatic Coast line.
the top of the tower, a marvellous panorama on the town centre and on the
landscape around can be enjoyed both by day, but also at night when the
view is enchanting.
sculptures located on the South and East side of the Gerosolimitana tower
have often attracted the interest of scholars. The East side is
characterized by the Maltese Cross, as already mentioned above, and by two
pre-Romanic single lancet windows. The upper one is decorated with
stylized natural elements.
south side faces La Collegiata. It is engraved with an image of the Holy
Grail. It symbolizes the passion of Christ. The Grail seems to be
overwhelmed by a tree and threatened by two beasts: it should represent
the victory of Christ on evil.
A pre-Romanic lunette (XI-XII century) is walled in above the main
entrance. It should come from Santa Croce al Chienti Abbey (located in
Casette d’Ete). It shows “Cristus Triumphans” on a cross leaned on
the back of an animal very likely to be a lamb.
Two bells have been installed on the top of the tower in the second half
of XVII century. The biggest one dates back to 1687 and is engraved with a
dedication to the crucifix, to Holy Mary, to Saint Nicola and Elpidio,
patron Saint of the city.
di Sant'Elpidio a Mare
Assessorato alla Cultura e Turismo
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