Genoa, on the south west coast of northern Italy, is one of the principal ports of the Mediterranean. This once powerful maritime republic, birthplace of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) and now the capital of Liguria, has a fine natural harbour. From the cruise terminals in Genoa's docklands take a taxi or tour to visit Genoa's historical centre with the Patrician Palaces, regarded as one of the best preserved in Europe. From here you can also visit nearby Portofino and Santa Margherita as well as Milan, 130km (75 miles) inland.
At the heart of the old quarter of Genoa is the Romanesque Gothic church of San Donato, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, and on the harbour front is the Palazzo San Giorgio, which was built in the 14th century. San Lorenzo cathedral, consecrated in 1118, contains a wealth of art treasures. The massive 16th-century Palazzo Ducale, former residence of the doges, now houses the law courts. On the Piazza San Matteo are the houses of the Doria family and the Church of San Matteo, founded by the family in 1125 and containing the tomb of the Genoese admiral and statesman Andrea Doria. To the north-west, near the Stazione Marittima where ocean liners dock, stands the 13th-century Church of the Annunziata, noteworthy for its interior containing many fine works of art.
Genoa's history goes back to ancient times. A city cemetery, dating from the 4th century BC, testifies to the occupation of the site by the Greeks, but the fine harbour probably was in use much earlier. Destroyed by the Carthaginians in 209 BC, the town was rebuilt by the Romans, who used it as a base during their wars with Liguria. In the 11th and 12th centuries Genoa expanded as a maritime republic and its influence spread across the Mediterranean in competition with Venice until naval defeat at the Battle of Choggia in 1380. However Genoa remained an independent state under the Doges until 1797 when it was annexed by Napolean and then in 1815 by the Kingdom of Sardinia.
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