Saint Patrick’s well is one of the most famous attractions in Orvieto.
It was built by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, at the behest of Pope Clement VIII who had taken refuge in Orvieto during the Sack of Rome (1527)
The Pope feared that the city water supply would be insufficient in the case of Siege: indeed, Orvieto is built on the top of tufa rock and doesn’t have any constant freshwater supply in the old city center. It has springs only at the base of the cliff. The medieval town relieved mostly on rainy waters.
So, in 1527, Pope Clement VIII designated the skillful engineer Sangallo. At first, he proceeded on hydrogeological research in order to identify a suitable site to dig and reach the bottom layer of clay where the water flows.
He had to cut and carve more than 175 feet deep and 42 feet large!
The well was completed only in 1537 during the papacy of Pope Paul III.
He built a double helicoidal staircase made up of 248 steps; lit by 70 huge windows.
The original name was Pozzo della Rocca (Fortress’ well) since it was close to the Albornoz Fortress.
Only later it was named after the Irish St. Patrick because it was used a purgatory of Saint Patrick by the second half of the 18th century.
Throw a coin to make sure you will be back and happy in Orvieto!
Did you know that this isn’t the sole well dug by Sangallo in that period? He worked also on Pozzo della Cava, on the other side of the rock of Orvieto.
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