From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search
For alternate uses see Genoa (disambiguation).
Location within Italy
Location within Italy
Flag of Genoa
Flag of Genoa
Christopher Columbus monument in Piazza Aquaverde
Christopher Columbus monument in Piazza Aquaverde

Genoa (Italian Genova, Genoese Zena, French Gênes, German Genua, Spanish Genova) is a city and a seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria. The city has a population of ca. 600,000, the metropolitan area has a population of ca. 800,000.

Genua was a city of the ancient Ligurians. Its name is probably Ligurian, meaning "knee" (from Proto-Indo-European *genu 'knee'), i.e. "angle", from its geographical position, thus akin to the name of Geneva. Alternatively, the name has been claimed to derive from Latin Janua ("gate"), the two-headed god Janus, or an ancient word that means "foreigners", as the early settlers were considered foreign by the neighbouring population.



Ancient history

Genoa's history goes back to ancient times. A city cemetery, dating from the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., testifies to the occupation of the site by the Greeks, but the fine harbor probably was in use much earlier, perhaps by the Etruscans. Destroyed by the Carthaginians in 209 BC, the town was rebuilt by Rome, under which the city enjoyed municipal rights and exported skins, wood, and honey. Although remaining faithful to Rome while other Ligurian and Celtic peoples of northern Italy stood by Carthaginians in the Second Punic War, its importance as a Roman port city was eclipsed by the rise of Vada Sabatia, near modern Savona.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Genoa was occupied by the Ostrogoths , then by the Lombards. For the following several centuries, Genoa was little more than a small, obscure fishing center.It then was ruled then by the Arabs and in that period it has flourished and gained many sciences and knowledges form the Arabs till it was abandoned after the fall of the Fatimid Empire.

Middle Ages & Renaissance

Before 1100, Genoa emerged as an independent city-state. Nominally, the Holy Roman Emperor was overlord and the Bishop of Genoa was president of the city; however, actual power was wielded by a number of "consuls" annually elected by popular assembly. Genoa was one of the so-called "Maritime Republics" (Repubbliche Marinare), along with Venice, Pisa, and Amalfi) and trade, shipbuilding and banking helped support one of the largest and most powerful navies in the Mediterranean. The Republic of Genoa extended over modern Liguria and Piedmont, Sardinia, Corsica and had practically complete control of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Through Genoese participation on the Crusades, colonies were established in the Mideast, in the Aegean in Sicily and Northern Africa. Genoese Crusaders brought home a green glass goblet from the Levant, which Genoese long regarded as the Holy Grail.

The collapse of the Crusader States was offset by Genoa’s alliance with the Byzantine Empire, which opened opportunities of expansion into the Black Sea and Crimea. Internal feuds between the powerful families, the Grimaldi, Doria, Spinola, and others caused much disruption, but in general the republic was run much as a business affair. Genoa's political zenith came with its victory over Pisa in 1284, and its persistent rival, Venice, in 1298.

However, this prosperity did not last. The Black Death was imported into Europe in 1349 from the Genoese trading post at Kaffa (Feodosiya) in the Crimea, on the Black Sea. Following the economic and population collapse, Genoa adopted the Venetian model of government, and was presided over by a doge (see Doges of Genoa). The wars with Venice continued, and the War of Chioggia (1378-1381), ended with a victory for Venice. After a period of French domination from 1394-1409, Genoa came under rule by the Visconti of Milan. Genoa lost Sardinia to Aragon, Corsica to internal revolt and its Middle Eastern colonies to the Ottoman Empire and the Arabs.

Christopher Columbus, a native of Genoa, donated one-tenth of his income from the discovery of the Americas for Spain to the Bank of San Giorgio in Genoa for the relief of taxation on foods. The Spanish connection was reinforced by Andrea Doria, who established a new constitution in 1528, making Genoa a satellite of the Spanish Empire. Under the ensuing economic recovery, many Genoese family amassed tremendous fortunes. At the time of Genoa’s peak in the 16th century, the city attracted many artists, including Rubens, Caravaggio, and Van Dyke. The famed architect Galeazzo Alessi (1512-1572) designed many of the city’s splendid palazzo. Genoa suffered from French bombardment in 1684, and was occupied by Austria in 1746 during the War of the Austrian Succession. In 1768, Genoa was forced to cede Corsica to France.

Map of Liguria showing Genoa (with permission of [1])
Map of Liguria showing Genoa (with permission of [1])

Later history

However, with the shift in world economy and trade routes to the New World and away from the Mediterranean, Genoa's political and economic power went into steady decline.

In 1797, under pressure from Napoleon, Genoa became a French protectorate called the Ligurian Republic, which was annexed by France in 1805. Although the Genoese revolted against France in 1814 and liberated the city on their own, delegates at the Congress of Vienna sanctioned its incorporation into Piedmont (Kingdom of Sardinia), thus ending the three century old struggle by the House of Savoy to acquire the city. The city soon gained a reputation as a hotbed of anti-Savoy republican agitation, although the union with Savoy was economically very beneficial. With the growth of the Risorgimento movement, the Genoese turned their struggles from Giuseppe Mazzini's vision of a local republic into a struggle for a unified Italy under a liberalized Savoy monarchy. In 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi set out from Genoa with a over a thousand volunteers to begin the campaign.

Famous Genoese include Christopher Columbus (although his birthplace is disputed between Genoa and Portugal), Admiral Andrea Doria, violinist Niccolò Paganini and Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini.


The population is quite homogenous Italian. Southern and northern Italians alike have flocked to the city during the late 1900's. An estimated 95.3% of the population is of Italian origin. But there has been a sharp increase of immigrants mostly from South America, Eastern Europe, and a very meagre number from Asia. [2]

Immigrants by country (2004)


  • The port of Genoa is the first in Italy. It ranks second in the Mediterranean after neighbouring Marseille, France.
  • The Aquarium of Genoa is the largest in Europe.
  • Other landmarks of the city are the Palazzo Ducale (Genoa)|Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), St. Lawrence Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo), The Old Harbor (Porto Antico), transformed into a mall by architect Renzo Piano, Via Garibaldi with its superb palaces and the monumental cemetery on Staglieno's hill.
  • The Museo d'Arte Orientale is one of the largest collections of Oriental art in Europe.
  • The University of Genoa, with 40,000 students (one of the larger universities in Italy,) was founded in 1481.
  • Genoa Cricket & Football Club was the first Italian football club.
  • The 27th G8 summit took place in Genoa in July 2001, resulting in riots and the shooting of a protestor and a violent crackdown by the police.
  • For 2004, the European Union designated Genoa as European Capital of Culture, along with the French City of Lille.
  • In 1922 the Genoa Conference was the first economic conference that included a representitative from the newly-communist Soviet Socialist Republics.

See also

External links

Staglieno: A monumental cemetery
Staglieno: A monumental cemetery
Personal tools