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L’Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy

High in the hills overlooking the Aterno River, and surrounded by medieval walls, sits the thirteenth-century city of L’Aquila. The city flourished in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as an important trading center for wool and saffron. The city was conquered and fortified by the Spanish in the early sixteenth century, and was rebuilt largely in the baroque style after an earthquake hit the area in 1703. The city was organized in quarters around a series of squares and churches, though modern development over the last two centuries has modified its medieval urban structure. Tragically, the historic center was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 2009, including severe damage to the main squares and churches.

Since the earthquake, the historic city center remains a “red zone” and is mostly inaccessible due to strict safety regulations. Many of the local civic, religious, and social structures cannot be used, and the residents of the historic center are currently living in temporary housing outside of the damaged area. Four years after the catastrophe, it is important to raise awareness about the serious and still unresolved situation persisting in L’Aquila. Without proper repair and restoration of the historic core, the city will lose important cultural heritage as well as a significant economic and community asset. While disaster response can be a long and difficult process, there is a need to renew the calls for recovery and revitalization of the historic urban core to ensure revitalization of the community.

Download a 2014 Watch poster of this site (see download instructions).


World Monuments Fund



On May 29 an exhibition and conference were held to raise awareness about the Historic Center of L’Aquila, which was badly damaged during a 2009 earthquake. Presenters discussed conservation of the historic fabric of the town center and attendees participated in guided tours of the site.

On Youtube:
2014 Watch Day at L'Aquila
In the Media:
Watch Day – L’Aquila, centro storico

Historic Center of L’Aquila
The church of Santa Maria Paganica in L’Aquila, after the 2009 earthquake, 2009
Historic Center of L’Aquila
The front façade of the fifteenth-century Basilica of San Bernardino in L’Aquila, 2013
Historic Center of L’Aquila
L’Aquila's Palazzo della Prefettura, heavily damaged in the 2009 earthquake, 2009