The museum building

The Sangallo Fortress of Civita Castellana, houses the archaeological museum of Ager Faliscus. It was a prestigious military building commissioned by Pope Alexander VI Borgia to Antonio da Sangallo the Elder who started the construction around 1495.

This fortress was built on the site of a former medieval fortress, whose function was to control the major crossroads going to Nepi, Amelia and Viterbo.

It is of a pentagonal shape, with five bastions, three of which were used for cannons, it is surrounded by a moat on four sides, except on the north side.

Under Pope Julius II, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger was appointed to continue the work begun by his uncle. He built the octagonal donjon and the “bugnato” doorway to the entrance of the fortress and completed the larger courtyard with the portico of two orders, one on top of the other. In the middle of the courtyard there is an octagonal well set up on a monumental cistern. The walls and vaults of the portico are covered with frescoes, painted by Pier Matteo d'Amelia with delightful paintings and writings in praise of Pope Alexander VI and Cesare Borgia.

Considered one of the most important military works of that period, the fortress was used by the Pope to live in until the beginning of the 19th century, when it first became a political prison and then, from 1846 a military one. After 1870 the papal domains were added to that of the Kingdom of Italy and the fortress continued to be a penal institution, During and after the Second World War, it was a refuge for numerous displaced families. The current appearance is the result of a long and difficult restoration which has made it possible to regain it’s function as a monumental complex and make it an archaeological museum, which was opened to the public in 1977.