Merano, Porta Bolzano

There is something faintly sinister about this gate. It has to do with the near absence of windows or other articulation in the principal face of the tower, combined with the large openings in the roof (the purpose of which might be to allow the sound of bells to escape).

Notwithstanding this deficit, the tower and gate provide an intimate enclosure for this street. Notice that the street narrows almost to the width of the archway, and that the reductions are somewhat erratic. The passage through the arch does not align precisely with the centerline of the street.

This seemingly-random arrangement is characteristic of areas that were never planned but instead developed organically, probably over the course of several centuries. It is not random at all, but based on the actions of hundreds of individuals over a long period of time. The arrangement is almost certainly the result of long, careful consideration. The arrangement of the buildings was based on the needs of those who lived and worked in the area; the involvement of central authorities was probably limited to the construction of the gate itself (if that).

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Text ©2001-2002 J.Crawford