Passions & Places

Torre Gerosolimitana

Torre Gerosolimitana
Sant'Elpidio a Mare (Ascoli Piceno)

Torre 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 8,20m. 

It 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.

A 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.

The 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 Maltese Cross.

The 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.

The 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.

A 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.

On 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.

Some 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.

The 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.  

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Assessorato alla Cultura e Turismo


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