Torre Civica di Porta Vecchia (Civic Tower) (XVII century)
The Civic Tower of Este, commonly called Porta Vecchia, is a building of the late 1600s that is striking for its position and its impressive and spectacular appearance. We can consider it, together with the Castle, as the monument-symbol of Este. Originally, where the current tower now stands, there was a tower in masonry that acted as a gateway to the village for those coming from the south or west. Certainly, it already existed in the thirteenth century, when the city was ruled by the Marquis d’Este. In the following century the tower took the name of Carrarese, in honour of the family which held the lordship of Padua and that liberated Este from the Scaligeri family, thus building the still-existing castle. The old tower was damaged and rendered unstable by the earthquake of April 1688, the same that caused the collapse of the central nave of the Cathedral of Santa Tecla. The authorities of the time decided for safety reasons to proceed with its demolition and in 1690 the new tower was built, the Porta Vecchia that we all know today. The new construction was embellished with the singular Ghibelline battlements and in 1700 there was placed, in the side facing the square, a large clock that displays, in addition to the Roman numerals of the 12 hours, the phases of the moon. The tower is divided internally into three compartments: the “Room of the fireplace”, connected to the entrance on the ground floor by a circular spiral staircase in trachyte; the “Room of the mezzanine floor”, which is accessed through another spiral staircase, this one a modern structure in wood; the belfry that houses a remarkable seventeenth-century bell.