Portoferraio is a city in the province of Livorno on the shores of the bay of the same name on the island of Elba. The largest settlement on the island. Due to the landscape of the area, most of the city's buildings are located on the slopes of a tiny hill, surrounded on three sides by the sea.
Watch camera online in Portoferraio
Portoferraio was founded by Cosimo I Medici, Duke of Tuscany, in 1548 under the name Cosmopoli (City of Cosimo) in opposition to the Spanish citadel at Porto Azzurro. In the 16th century, the city had three forts - Forte Stella, Forte Falcone and Forte Inglese - and a massive line of defensive walls still visible today. Until the 18th century, Portoferraio remained under the jurisdiction of the Duchy of Tuscany, and then, due to its advantageous location, it turned out to be a bone of contention between France, England and Austria. In 1801, the British garrison withstood the siege, but a year later the city was transferred to France. In 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled here - this was the first stop in his exile.
In the 19th century, Portoferraio grew rapidly thanks to the construction of infrastructure and the development of metallurgy in the Rio Marina. Then the city turned into a major port, from where metal ore was delivered to the mainland - hence the name of the city, meaning "Iron Port". In 1860, the city became part of the Italian Kingdom.
During the Second World War, when Elba was occupied by the Germans, Portoferraio became the scene of fierce battles more than once. Only in June 1944 did French troops liberate the island after a two-day battle, during which the city was seriously destroyed.
In the late 1970s, the development of the metallurgical industry began to decline, and for some time the economy of Portoferraio was in a situation of stagnation, but soon the port, like the entire island, began to turn into a world-renowned tourist resort.
The main attractions of Portoferraio today are the ancient fortified forts of Stella, Falcone and Inglese, the Archaeological Museum and the house of Napoleon. Also noteworthy is the city lighthouse located at the northern end of Forte Stella - it was built in 1788. The 25-meter stone tower has a double balcony and, in fact, a lantern, located at an altitude of 63 meters above sea level. The lighthouse is fully automated.
In addition, Portoferraio is known for its Jewish community. The first Jews appeared here at the beginning of the 17th century, because the edict of Cosimo I promised privileges to everyone who decided to settle in the new city of Cosmopoli. The first synagogue was built in 1631-1632, although at that time only about 10 Jewish families lived on the island. In 1702, a decree was issued, according to which Jews were to live on the specially designated Via degli Ebrei street (today Via Elbano Gasperi), which was a small ghetto. It was forbidden to leave it after one in the morning. Around the same time, a certain Abram Pardo was forbidden to build a new synagogue next to the church, and he built it in the garden behind his house, below Forte Stella. In the 18th century, a special cemetery for Jews was equipped in the city, which was surrounded by a wall - today there is a spacious garden in its place, but the ruins of the wall with the central entrance are still visible today.