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History of Genoa

Capital of Liguria, the most important Italian port and a major commercial and industrial centre, Genoa lies along approximately 35 km of coastline on the gulf of the same name.

It was founded by the Ligurians and started to develop as a maritime trading centre in the 5th century BC; it had close relations with the Greeks, Etruscans, Romans and Carthaginians, Conquered during the Greek-Gothic war by Belisarius, it remained under Byzantium for many years, even after the Lombard invasion.

Under the Lombard king Rothari it became the capital of the duchy of Liguria and, later, in Carolingian times was the county seat and then incorporated into the Obertenghi region.

At the end of the 11th century, with partecipation in the Crusades and then the constitution of the compagna communis, a trading consortium, the history of Genoa became that of a state, whose naval power was to last until the 15th century, with the creation of emporiums, ports and colonies from the Aegean to the Black Sea.

After years of rivalry with Pisa, generated for the possession of Corsica, Genoa increased its importance as a naval republic in the 13th century, having defeated Pisa in 1284 at the battle of Meloria.

Having gained control of the Mediterranean - always disputed by Venice - colonial enterprise extended the range of Genoa's political and trading interests with the Orient and North Africa.
Internal fighting and rivalry with Venice led the government later to contract a political alliance with France, by which it was nonetheless conquered in 1499 and 1502.

In 1528, thanks to the famous admiral Andrea Doria, it won independence, maintained until the times of Napoleon. Doria's achievement was all the more important beacuse under his rule a new Constitution was adopted - and remained in force until 1797; thanks to his disguised dictatorship Genoa gained financial power that had few equals among the European cities. After escaping the conspiracy ordered by the Fieschis, the admiral reluctantly saw the return of party struggles.

After some attempts at occupation on the part of the French (Louis XIV shelled the city in 1684) and after having been drawn into the Austrian war of Succession (the Balilla episode took place in 1746), Genoa became part of the Napoleonic empire in 1805, but was incorporated in the kingdom of Sardinia in 1814, after the Vienna congress, and later became one of the leading centres in the Risorgimento movement: the republican Mazzini was Ligurian and Garibaldi, a Ligurian of Nice, set off from Quarto with his "thousand".

By the Decision of 28th May 1998, the Governments of the European Union have designated Genoa as European Capital of Culture, along with the French City of Lille.

Genova's journey as the European Capital of Culture has just begun.
It will be a oneyear- long trip, in which the city, with everyone's participation, is going to open itself up to the world in all its glory.

Genova, the point of departure and arrival, will recount its history of the past and the present through the infinite imagery of travel. The journey as an expression of the richness and variety of culture has been intended in both a physical sense-as a Europe-Mediterranean axis, port, centre of commerce, emigration, tourism-and a metaphorical way, referring to knowledge, curiosity, discovery, change.

Three different routes unravel, intermingle and come back together again from the central theme of the journey.
Each of the three theme-routes corresponds to a mission, an exhibition-event and one of the three museum poles.

Genova City of Art involves the mission of 'Enhancing the Heritage', the exhibition "L'Età di Rubens" and the Musei di Strada Nuova; Genova Capital of the Sea runs along with 'Developing Knowledge', "I transatlantici" and the Musei del Mare e della Navigazione; Genova Contemporary City develops into 'Harmonising the City', "Arte&Architettura, 1900-2000" and the Musei e Parchi di Nervi.

All the events and initiatives in the programme for Genova 2004 refer to one of the three theme-routes. Genova 2004 has two fundamental goals and two strategic approaches to reach them.
One is to redefine its cultural identity as a city with many vocations, where a port, industry, touristic and cultural activities coexist; the other is to have Genova felt as a positive and attractive town on a national, international and, last but not least, local level.

In order to achieve this goal we felt it was imperative to obtain the participation and involvement of all the citizens and institutions and make the results durable beyond 2004.