Torre dell’Elefante

Tower in Cagliari

Image by Andy Christiani Getty Images

One of only two Pisan towers still standing, the Torre dell’Elefante was built in 1307 as a defence against the threatening Aragonese. Named after the sculpted elephant by the vicious-looking portcullis, the 42m-high tower became something of a horror show, thanks to the severed heads the city's Spanish rulers used to adorn it with. The crenellated storey was added in 1852 and used as a prison for political detainees. Climb to the top for far-reaching views over the city’s rooftops to the sea.

The Spaniards beheaded the Marchese di Cea here and left her head lying around for 17 years. They also liked to festoon the portcullis with the heads of executed prisoners, strung up in cages like ghoulish fairy lights.


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