Genoa what to do

Historical centre of Genoa

The historical centre of Genoa is the nucleus of the old city which developed as labyrinth of winding alleys (called “carrugi”) with medieval origins and which extends, from east to west, from Carignano hill to the railway station of Genoa Piazza Principe which is behind the ancient Palazzo del Principe (Palace of the Prince), the home of Admiral Andrea Doria.

Considering the extension of the original nucleus of 1,13 square kilometres (that is 113 hectares, the surface of Prè-Molo-Maddalena neighbourhoods) it is sometimes regarded as the widest ancient European historical centre. However this is not correct because it turns out to be less extended e.g. than Rome (1430 hectares), than Naples (the largest one with 1700 hectares) and also than Pisa (185 hectares).

Anyway due to the high concentration of buildings , especially after the huge housing development started in the 18th century, it still remains one of the historical centres with the highest number of inhabitants: in the most ancient area which includes the port there are about 23.000 inhabitants living in 2305 dwellings (according to a 1999 estimate) occupying a volume of about 10 million cubic meters.

Slightly less one fourth of the buildings (23,5%) were built after the Second World War or during the following decades because many of the original buildings had been bombed and destroyed by the Allies during the war.

The aquarium of Genoa

The aquarium of Genoa is the largest Italian aquarium, the second largest one in Europe after that one in Valencia, Spain and the ninth one in the world.

It is situated in the area of Ponte Spinola in the ancient port of Genoa.

The Aquarium, was opened in 1992 during the Columbus celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. Architect Renzo Piano designed the structure and the nearby area while architect Peter Chermayeff took care of the interior design.

Afterwards it has repeatedly been enlarged. At the time of its opening it was second largest aquarium in the world. From its opening up to 2014 it has received over 25 million visitors, an annual average of 1,2 million visitors.


Its renewal was completed at the beginning of the 1990s and it concerned an area corresponding to the old core of the port activities – it was the workplace of the port workers, called “camalli”, employed by company Compagnia dei Caravana – this area had remained abandoned for many decades.

Nowadays its numerous docks with different names belong to the area of the Ancient Port and form a huge square overlooking the sea where it is possible to find the aquarium, some museums, an exhibition centre, entertainment facilities and points of cultural and touristic interest. With its surface of more than 230,000 square metres it is the largest square of the city together with other two important squares, Piazza della Vittoria and Piazza de Ferrari.

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