Anagni is a small town south of Rome, famous mainly for having functioned for a time as the papal seat. It has a beautiful historic center with attractions such as the Palazzo Papale and the Casa Barnekow. It is one of the mot interesting small towns in the Province of Frosinone.
All about Anagni (province of Frosinone)
By car/public transport
By public transport: From Rome there is a direct train to the city. The travel time is between 30 and 45 minutes. The train station is located outside the city center, so it is necessary to take a bus to get there.
By car: The “city of the popes” is located along the A1 motorway between Rome and Naples. The exit is Anagni-Fiuggi Terme. From Rome you can also take the slightly (but not much) more picturesque Via Casilina and then take the exit to your destination.
The historical center of Anagni is located on top of a hill, almost 500 m above sea level. The center is enclosed by thick, protective walls.
Anagni can boast beatiful historic buildings as well as churches and ancient monuments, which can easily entertain a visitor for a whole day.
The Palazzo Papale (“Papal Palace”) is the most famous building in town. The San Magno Crypt in the Cathedral is world famous and the Arcazzi are among the most impressive monuments of the region.
The town’s main festival period falls round the feast day of its patron saint, San Magno. Every afternoon there is a parade from the Porta Cerere to the Cathedral, where a mass is held and horse and rider are blessed.
Another parade is held in honor of the Most Holy Redeemer, leading from the Chiesa Collegiata di Sant’Andrea to the Cathedral.
A brief history of Anagni
The area was already inhabited as much as 700,00 years ago. This is evidenced by excavations of both fragments of hand-made objects and some human remains.
The tribe that used to live here was called the Hernici. Anagni was one of their most important cities, with many temples and codices with sacred Etruscan writings.
Around the 7th century BC there were cultural and economic dealings between the Hernici and the Etruscans. The Romans are thought to have defeated the Hernici in 306 BC. After this Anagni sided with Rome (though its citizens were withheld the right to vote).
Anagni was a favorite imperial hang-out during the hot Roman summers and emperors such as Marcus Aurelius, Septimius Severus, Commodus and Caracalla spent a lot of time in the city. When the Empire started its downfall, Anagni also collapsed. Population dwindled and the lower parts of the city were abandoned and grown over.
In the 9th century the first Cathedral was built in Anagni, on top of the ruins of a temple dedicated to the Goddess Ceres. The church played an important role in re-establishing Anagni as an economic and agricultural center in the 10th and 11th centuries. Like the Emperors in the olden days, many Popes preferred Anagni to unsafe and unhealthy Rome and took up residence in the city.
The 11th and 12th century, thanks to the papal presence, had witnessed the signing of several important political/religious documents in Anagni. The city became even more important in the 13th century, when 4 of its citizens, most of the Conti family, became Popes.
Boniface VIII of the Caetani family, the last Pope to have originated from Anagni, in 1300 set up the first Jubilee. He also founded the first Roman University. His 1302 Bull Unam Sanctum caused the so-called Outrage of Anagni, when Philip the Fair had the Pope imprisoned and nearly killed by a band of mercenaries.
When Boniface died, and the papal court was transferred to Avignon, a new period of decline started for Anagni.
After King Philip II of Spain besieged and sacked Anagni (1556), the town walls were severely damaged. It was not until the early 17th century the restoration works were started that give Anagni its present look.
By the end of the 19th century some of the grandeur was restored and the city became a relatively important educational center.
Not too long ago, Anagni still was the site of the Pope’s summer residence, a task now fulfilled by Castel Gandolfo.
The coat of arms of Anagni consists of a lion on top of an eagle, symbolizing the Romans conquering the Hernican people in 306 B.C. The letters S.P.Q.A. (Senatus Populusque Anagninus) signify the “Senate and the people of Anagni”, after its Roman example, S.P.Q.R.
The last stop on metro line A in Rome is called Anagnina. It is named after the Via Anagnina, which used to connect the capital to Anagni.