Ancona is located on a promontory of a natural bay that stretches out towards the sea. Ideal harbor for all kinds of yachts and boats; the city's name derives from the Greek word "ankon" which means "elbow". The city was founded by the Greeks of Siracusa in the IV century b.C., but it reached the maximum of its splendour under the Romans at the times of the Emperor Traiano with architectonic masterpieces such as a splendid triumphal arch, that was edified in his honour.
In 848 it was invaded and sacked by the Saracens, after they had destroyed the Veneto-Anconitana fleet in the waters of the Adriatic sea. The city raised again in the XII century and proclaimed its own council and became a naval stronghold, repelling two important aimed attacks, the first commanded by Lotario II (1137) and the second by Federico Barbarossa (1167).
After the discovering of America and the fall of Costantinopoli under the Turk dominion, the maritime commerce moved from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean and all the Italian sea republics submitted a period of recession that continued throughout the whole XVII century. The economy started to recover with the pope Clemente XII, who in 1732 granted the city with a no custom duties permission.
Important traces of the Greek and Picene civilizations are preserved in the Archeological Museum and in the Civic Museum, whilst the rests of a Doric Temple, entitled to Aphrodite, have been recently excavated near to the Cathedral.
Emblem of the city is the Arch of Traiano, an elegant example of Roman art, artwork of Apolloro of Damascus in marble of the Imetto and with Corinth columns.
In the past it was embellished with statues and decorations, that went lost during the invasion of the Barbarians and the Saracens.
Another symbol of the city is the Cathedral of San Ciriaco (XI-XIII century): the façade was produced in white and pink stone of the Conerio and presents a splendid portal. Not to miss inside are the Chapel of the Madonna with an altar of the artist Vanvitelli and the Crypt of the Saints Ciriaco, Liberio and Marcellino.
In the port area arises the Mole Vanvitelliana or Lazzaretto, built in a pentagon shape, this fortified base (a sort of quarantine zone) was edified by the architect Vanvitelli with mainly military functions, also in sight of the urban reorganization of Ancona towards the sea at South but it also offered a sort of immunity from epidemic diseases which could have transported by goods or people from suspected countries. At the center there is a small Neoclassic temple entitled to san Rocco.
The Sangallo fortress, known also as the Cittadella, was built in one of the highest points of the city (actual piazza Sangallo) and was in '500 the main defense at the city's entrance. In the late '600 its walls were connected to the other fortified building near Porta Pia.
Worth a visit are: the Church of San Francesco delle Scale (XIV - XVIII century), in a panoramic location with a long staircase and a Gothic-Venetian portal, rich of statues and reliefs, artworks of Giorgo Orsini da Sebenico (1459); inside there are masterpieces of Lorenzo Lotto (altarpiece of the Asunta) and Pellegrino Tibaldi. The Church of Jesus Christ (XVIII century) of Vanvitelli; the Gothic Palazzo degli Anziani with a Baroque façade (today seat of the University); the Palazzo Ferretti of '500 (today seat of the Archeological Museum of the Marche Region).