The Old Fortress, known as Fortezza, dominates the east side of the town occupying a natural fortified position, which during the Venetian period (15th century) was converted from a peninsula to an isle through the construction of a trench for defense purposes.
It is located at the edge of the Esplanade, a few minutes from Liston. Once you cross the bridge over the artificial moat, the Contra Fossa and pass the imposing central gate, you will immediately feel like you are on an enchanting journey into the past.
The initial mid Byzantine fortifications on the bimodal rock were completed in the 13th-14th centuries, while in the 15th-16th centuries the walls were replaced by Venetian fortresses. In the early 16th century the fortified isle was the military and administrative center. Under British rule (1815-1864) new defense works were carried out and new buildings constructed.
The most important monuments on the site of the Old Fortress are the main gate, Savorian ramparts, Martinengo and Mandraki, the Towers of Land and Sea, the church of Saint George, the prison buildings, the English barracks and English hospital.
The Public Library and Historical Archive, one of the most important in the country, are housed in the Old Fortress. There is also the Old Fortress cafe where you can take a pleasant break.