Genoa, northwestern Italy

A seaport on the Gulf of Genoa (an arm of the Ligurian Sea) in the Medditerranean Sea.

The city lies beside a fine natural harbor at the foot of a pass in the western Apennines.

Shipbuilding is the leading industry of Genoa. Other important industries are the manufacture of iron and steel products, motors and automotive parts, refrigeration equipment, munitions, chemicals, soap, and the processing of agricultural products. Processing plants include sugar and edible-oil refineries, canneries, tanneries, breweries, and distilleries.

It rivals is the commercial center of the heavily industrialized sections of Piedmont and Lombardy, the rich agricultural regions of northern Italy and of central Europe

Genoa (Italian Genova; ancient Genua), city, , capital of Genoa Province, in Liguria Region.

Population (1991) 678,771.

The city is the seat of the University of Genoa (1471)

The old quarter of the city covers a narrow strip of coastal plain east and north of the old port, which was enlarged in modern times by the addition of an outer harbor protected by breakwaters. Industrial and residential sections were developed east and west along the shore and on the hills back of the old port. In the heart of the old quarter is the Romanesque-Gothic Church of San Donato, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, and, on the harbor front, is the Palazzo San Giorgio, which was built in the 14th century by order of the first Genoese doge, Simone Boccanegra, and which later became the seat of the powerful Bank of Saint George.

Work on the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Genoa was begun, according to some accounts, with the first rich booty from the Crusades. The cathedral, consecrated in 1118, contains a wealth of art treasures. The massive 16th-century Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale), former residence of the doges, now houses the law courts. On the Piazza San Matteo are the houses of the Doria family and the Church of San Matteo, founded by the family in 1125 and containing the tomb of the Genoese admiral and statesman Andrea Doria. Toward the northwest, near the Stazione Marittima, at which ocean liners dock, stands the 13th-century Church of the Annunziata, noteworthy for its interior containing many fine works of art. The birthplace of Christopher Columbus is also among the historic places of Genoa.

Genoa's history goes far back into ancient times. A city cemetery, dating from the 4th century BC, testifies to the occupation of the site by the Greeks, but the fine harbor probably was in use much earlier.

In the 12th century the Genoese extended their mastery over the adjacent coast and nearby mountain valleys and laid the foundations of future naval greatness and prosperity. Genoese ships transported Crusaders to the Middle East and returned laden with booty. Genoese merchants, profiting from the newly awakened European demand for goods from the Middle East, were to be found in all the principal centers of trade. Genoese forts and trading posts spread through the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and eventually into the Black Sea. Their trade, facilitated by friendly relations with the Byzantine Empire, brought Genoa and Venice into increasing rivalry, which broke into open warfare in the mid-13th century, just as Genoese power reached its height. At the Battle of Meloria (1284), Genoa crushed Pisa, the power of which thereafter declined; the Venetians were defeated at Curzola in 1299. The oligarchy of prosperous merchants and bankers that had ruled the Genoese Republic after 1257 subsequently dealt on equal terms with the courts of popes and kings. Genoese expansion, in fact, had been largely the work of citizens whose primary concern was the advancement of their private interests. As a result, the city was torn between factions contending for control of the government. The rival groups did not hesitate to call in outside powers to aid them. Even the dogeship, the institution of first magistrate, established in 1339, was unable to master the ensuing disorders. Although the struggle sapped Genoese strength, and despite continued bitter rivalry with Venice, the Genoese largely held their own for several decades. In 1380, however, their fleet fell into Venetian hands at Chioggia, a blow from which their naval power never recovered. Venice drew far ahead, and Genoese overseas possessions were lost one by one, although the last, Corsica, was held until 1768, when it was ceded to France. Internal strife finally ended under the rigid dogeship that Andrea Doria had established with the help of the Holy Roman emperor in 1528, and Genoa prospered as a shipbuilding port and banking center. Although powerful neighbors, France and Piedmont, dominated the city, Genoese independence was respected until 1797, when Napoleon Bonaparte abolished the dogeship and incorporated Genoa into the newly organized Ligurian Republic, which in turn was absorbed by the French Empire in 1805. The city was annexed by the kingdom of Sardinia in 1815. In the last quarter of the 19th century the port of Genoa was widened and modernized, and the city attracted a variety of industries that process imported raw materials and goods for export. During World War II repeated bombings heavily damaged the industrial sections and harbor of the city.


Major cities near Genoa:




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