History of Albenga


See Albenga guide for highlights and historic monuments

Albenga (“Albium Ingaunum”) is an ancient city, originally inhabited by the Ligurian “Ingauni”, and which later became a Roman municipality. Albium Ingaunum was founded between the 6th and 4th century BC, but the place where it stood is uncertain. Some scholars have suggested that:

"[...] the old ‘Albium Ingaunum’ was probably located on the same area occupied later by the Roman city, which coincides with the modern Old Town [...]" [2].

Roman Albenga

In Roman times, Albenga was a  fortified “castrum”, with streets at right angles, forming a grid around two central streets, the "Cardo" and “Decumanus”. It was laid out in this form and built in the Roman Republican Age, but the perimeter of the city expanded outside the walls during the Roman Empire, for the inauguration in 13 BC of the “Via Iulia Augusta”.

Albenga was an important Diocese from the fifth century AD, but it suffered several invasions by barbarians and Saracens.

The Middle Ages and later

The city had a considerable development between the 11th and 13th century, and it retains a memory of this period in some of the roads, such as the route “Enrico d’Aste”, which is flanked by several medieval buildings of the 13th and 14th century, and from which we see the early monumental complex formed by the cathedral, the  “Palazzo Vecchio del Comune”, the baptistery and numerous towers.

During the crusades Albenga was an important commercial center, and it became an independent municipality under the Emperor Frederick I (1122-1190), supporting the imperial party against the papacy until 1172.

In the first half of the 13th century it fought a long struggle against Genoa, to which it surrendered after the death of Frederick II (1194-1250) and by the domain of which it was subdued until 1625, when it was incorporated into the Duchy of Vittorio Amedeo of Savoy (1587-1637).

After the Congress of Vienna in 1815 it was assigned, with the rest of Liguria, to the Kingdom of Sardinia.

Origins of the name Albenga

The etymology is similar to "Albium Intimilium ("Ventimiglia") that has its roots in an ancient term, "Albon" (meaning "city"), while the second term refers to the people of “Ingauni”, who founded the settlement and were probably engaged in commerce. Indeed, G. Semerano writes that:

"[...] the ethnic name 'Ingauni' clarifies the nature of the population that settled in the Ligurian coastal plain area, devoted to trade and commerce [...]" [1].

See also Albenga for a visitor guide.

References

1. See G. Semerano, "The Origins of European Culture ", Olschki, 1984, p. 554

2. See B. Massabò , "'Albingaunum': Archaeological tours of Albenga, Ministry of Heritage and Culture, 2004, p. 8