Origins and story of Palestrina

Palestrina, the ancient and noble city of Praeneste, is an medieval city about 35 km east of Rome located in a panoramic position on the Southern slopes of Monte Ginestro, the last spur of the Prenestini Mountains. From this position Palestrina could control the roads of travel and communication between north and south, thus resulting in the city's wealth and power. It was reached by the roman Via Praenestina. Its origin was attributed by the ancients to Ulysses, or to another fabulous personage variously called Caeculus, Telegonus, Praenestus or Erulus. The town was already flourishing in 8th century B.C.

Ingrandisce foto

In 338 the city participated, under the hegemony of Alba Longa, in the Latin war against Rome. Then it formed an alliance with Rome and in 90 B.C. Its citizens were offered Roman citizenship. In 82 B.C., during the roman civil war, Palestrina was totally destroyed by Silla in his war against Marius.

When the city was captured, Marius (sheltered in the city) slew himself while the male inhabitants were massacred. Silla repopulated the newly founded town with his veterans and delegating the foundation of the new colony to M. Terentius Varro Lucullus, who was consul in 73 BC. In these years was enlarged the Sanctuary of the Fortuna Primigenia, with an important oracle, so as to include much of the space occupied by the ancient city.

Ingrandisce foto A view of historic center

Praeneste in medieval times changed its name and became Palestrina, it was conquered by the Lombards and in the 11th Century it became a possession of the Colonna family.
In 1297 the Colonna family revolted from the pope, but in the following year the town was sacked and destroyed from Pope Boniface VIII. Other sieges and destructions occurred in the XVth century.

In 1572, the town was granted the title of principality, and in 1630 it was sold to the Barberini family who restructured radically the Baronial Palace and built the Church of Saint Rosalia.
The town came to largely obscure the temple, whose monumental remains were revealed as a result of American bombing of German positions in World War II.


  • The Sacro Speco

    An impressive complex of buildings which almost looks as if it is one with the surrounding rock...

To know more

  • Rocca Pia

    Built on the place where Callisto II Borgia's Castle was situated...

  • Church of St.Peter

    It was built on the rests of a roman villa...

Con il patrocinio del Comune di Tivoli, Assessorato al Turismo

Patrocinio Comune di Tivoli

Assessorato al Turismo