For centuries its unmistakable profile has attracted the attention of all those who have walked down the city's riversides. This centuries-old area of Pisa offers a wide range of oft-neglected vestiges. Here, in the early 12th century, the Pisan Republic concentrated its ship-building activity, following the numerous victories carried off by its fleet throughout the Mediterranean. Extensive work was carried out in the area, known as Tersana, from the Italian word ''terzarolo'', denoting the smallest of the three lateen sails of galleys. In 1264, in addition to the laying up facilities and the wharves, the new republican dockyards included a small church, solemnly blessed by Archbishop Federico Visconti and dedicated to saints Barbara and Reparata. All that is left of the 13th-century structures are the brick arches incorporated in the defence wall along the Arno.
The importance of the dockyards increased in the 13th and 14th centuries after the completion of Pisa's newest bridge, the Ponte a Mare, with the adjoining Porta a Mare, the gate that is still visible on the left bank of the river. In 1394 Pisa's new prince Iacopo d'Appiano, fearing the return of the faction that supported the rival family Gambacorti, began converting the dockyards into a towered citadel defended by a standing garrison. During the first period of Florentine rule (1406), the new masters of Pisa definitively transformed the republican dockyard into the complex that would later be named Cittadella Vecchia. The early years of the 15th century also saw the construction of the tall Torre Guelfa (Guelph Tower), thus named in contrast to the pre-existing and now lost Torre Ghibellina (Ghibelline Tower), completed in 1290 in the south-western corner of Tersana. In 1944 all the area was seriously damaged by bombings and the Guelph Tower was completely destroyed.
The tower was rebuilt in its original appearance in 1956. Recent restoration work carried out by the municipal administration has allowed the tower to be reopened, offering visitors a charming view extending from the sweet curve of the mountains to the intense green of the pinewoods of the Park of San Rossore.The Old Citadel and the Guelph Tower are located in the area bound by the Piazza Tersanaia, the Via Nicola Pisano and the Ponte della Cittadella. Opening hours: from November to February, Saturday and Sunday from 2.00pm to 5.00pm; second Sunday of each month from 10.00am to 1.00pm and from 2.00pm to 6.00pm; from March to October, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3.00pm to 7.00pm.Closed on 1 May, 16 June, 15 August and from 24 December to 2 January. Admission: € 2.00; groups of at least 15 people € 1.50. Free for children up to the age of 10 and for people aged 65 and over.
Source: Pisa APT