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Putenz(a)  (Neapolitan)
Città di Potenza
Panorama of Potenza
Panorama of Potenza
Potenza within the Province of Potenza
Potenza within the Province of Potenza
Country Italy
Region Basilicata
Province Potenza (PZ)
 • Total 173 km2 (67 sq mi)
819 m (2,687 ft)
 (31 May 2015)
 • Total 67,348
 • Density 389.3/km2 (1,008.3/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Potentini
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code 0971
Patron saint St. Gerard
Saint day May 30

Potenza is a city and comune in the Southern Italian region of Basilicata (former Lucania).

Capital of the Province of Potenza and the Basilicata region, the city is the highest regional capital and one of the highest provincial capitals in Italy, overlooking the valley of the Basento river in the Apennine Mountains of Lucania, east of Salerno. Its territory is bounded by the comuni of Anzi, Avigliano, Brindisi Montagna, Picerno, Pietragalla, Pignola, Ruoti, Tito and Vaglio Basilicata.


Ancient times

The first settlement of Potentia (Potenza's original Latin name) was probably located at a lower elevation than at present, some 10 kilometres (6 miles) south of today's Potenza. The Lucani of Potentia sided against Rome's enemies during the latter's wars against the Samnites and the Bruttii. Subjugated during the 4th century BC (later gaining the status of municipium), the Potentini rebelled after the Roman defeat at Cannae in 216 BC. However, the Battle of the Metaurus marked the end of any Carthaginian aspirations in Italy and Potentia was reconquered by the Romans and reduced to the status of military colony.

Middle Ages

In the 6th century, the city passed to the Lombard Duchy of Benevento. Incursions by Saracens raiders menaced the city until the Norman conquest of southern Italy secured the area. In the 12th century, Potenza became an episcopal see. In 1137, the city hosted Pope Innocent II and Emperor Lothair II during their failed attempt to conquer the Norman kingdom. In 1148 or 1149 in Potenza, Roger II of Sicily hosted king Louis VII of France, whom the Norman fleet had freed from the Saracens. After pillaging by Emperor Frederick II, the city remained loyal to the Hohenstaufen: as a result, it was almost totally destroyed by Charles I when the Angevin lord conquered the Kingdom of Sicily. On December 18, 1273, an earthquake further devastated the city.

Cathedral Square

Modern age

In the following years of Late Middle Ages, the city was owned by various feudal families before the Spanish domination, during which Potenza was the site of riots against the Spaniards. In 1694, it was almost completely destroyed by another earthquake.

With the declaration of the Neapolitan Republic in 1799, Potenza was one of the first cities to rebel against the king. After temporary Bourbon repression, the city was conquered by the French army in 1806 and declared the capital of Basilicata. King Joachim Murat improved the city's living conditions and administration, while some urban improvements were also introduced for the visit of Ferdinand II in 1846. A revolt broke out in 1848 and was again put down by Bourbon forces, until a third devastating earthquake followed in 1857. Potenza rebelled for the last time in 1860, before Garibaldi's revolutionary army brought about the unification of Italy.

In September 1943, the city suffered heavy Allied bombing. In 1980, another strong earthquake struck Potenza.

Main sights

  • Potenza Cathedral: The Duomo di San Gerardo, renovated in the 18th century. The cathedral still houses the rose window and the apse from the original 12th-century structure.
  • San Francesco: church founded in 1274. The portal and the bell tower date from the 15th century. The church houses the De Grasis sepulchre and a Madonna in Byzantine style (13th century).
  • The Torre Guevara, the last remnant of the old castle. It is now used to stage art exhibitions.
  • The Palazzo Loffredo, a 17th-century noble residence. It is now the seat of the "Dinu Adameșteanu" National Archaeological Museum.
  • Three gates of the old city walls, now demolished. The gates are the Porta San Giovanni, the Porta San Luca and the Porta San Gerardo.
  • San Michele: 11th-12th century Romanesque-style church.
  • Santa Maria del Sepolcro: church.
  • The ruins of a Roman villa in the Poggio Tre Galli quarter.
  • Musmeci Bridge, a unique construction, monument of modern civil engineering.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Potenza para niños

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