Lucca's medieval and Renaissance features are enclosed in its thick 16th century walls, a characteristic of this beautiful Tuscan town on the left of the river Serchio.
The circle of walls has eleven bastions of different shapes and dimensions. Both the so called Torrione del Bastardo and the San Martino bastion have preserved their original XVIth century structure. In particular inside the latter, open to visitors, we can examine in detail of one of these impressive constructions and see how the gunports used to be arranged.
The San Paolino bastion, completely restored and open to visitors, proposes an unusual and winning solution for the reclamation and usage of large underground spaces.
The town was a free commune since the XIIth century and Porta San Pietro, the oldest (1565-1566) of its three original gates, was the only one through which foreigners were allowed to pass. Though in part modified in the course of the centuries, it still preserves substantially unchanged the look of its elegant facade.
Inside Porta Santa Maria (1592-1594), open to the public and seat of the town's Newspaper Library, we can see the large scale mechanism that served to lift the heavy portcullis blocking the entrance below, the only original mechanism surviving in town.
Porta San Donato Nuova (1628-1639) is an unusual example of town gate. Slender and refined in shape it has an elegant two colour decoration together with marble statues of San Paolino and San Donato. To the above mentioned we must add Porta Vecchia San Donato (1590), open to the public and seat of the Tourist Office, with the nearby remains of an old bastion which was part of an abandoned fortification project still based on the medieval wall. The circle of walls is completed by two modern gates, Porta Elisa and Porta Vittorio Emanuele.