Historical building, Bologna
Measuring 59 metres, the Prendiparte Tower is the second one by height in Bologna, right after the famous tower of Asinelli.
Built in the XII century by the Guelph family Prendiparte, it is one of the 20 towers that have survived the passing of times of the original 90 which filled the town centre in former centuries. It is also called “the crowned tower” because of its decorated and narrower end, which makes it look like it wears a crown.
As most towers in town, it was built as a defensive building rather than as a home. Throughout the last centuries, it has undergone different changes, even hosting a religious prison before becoming a private home. The history of the tower can be followed on its walls, where decorations and writings of prisoners and families can be seen. The prison was located on the 3rd, 4th and 5th floors of the tower; on the 5th, one of the most famous inscriptions can be found: engraved by Angelo Rizzoli, a prisoner who was incarcerated “for having impregnated two sisters”.
With the arrival of Napoleon the tower was seized from the curia and the first three floors were transformed into private dwellings. Because in its origins it was meant as a defensive tower, the ancient door is not the one we can admire carved into the selenite of its ground floor, but the crevice which can be seen halfway up the building. In the event of an attack, the family would get to the entrance through provisional stairs or from the insides of the building.
The foundation of the Prendiparte tower is surrounded by selenite, a typical rock from the Bolognese territory, with a grey tone and crystal composition. All the Roman walls were built with this material which is not very resistant due to its porosity but is a perfect antidote against Bologna’s humidity. To have the base of the towers covered in selenite meant protecting the brick walls from moisture and underground waters.
One of the many legends around Bologna’s Roman period is in fact linked to this stone. The legend says that Bologna was under siege and about to surrender when the gods sent their help by providing a clear moonlight night. Thanks to the moonlight, the selenite walls shined so bright that the enemies, surprised by this effect, thought that the city was surrounded and protected by spirits. Not wanting to cause the anger of the gods, they ended the siege and left.
Nowadays the Prendiparte tower hosts a B&B that organizes public events during which it is possible to climb up to the towers terrace from where an amazing 360° view of the red roofs of Bologna can be seen.