The origin of Fortezza Vecchia takes place not far from what once was Porto Pisano (Pisan Port) where a square tower was built in 1077, on request of Matilda of Tuscany, on the remains of a Roman tower; in 1241 the Pisans built a massive cylindrical tower, 30 meters high erroneously called Mastio di Matilde (Matilda keep). Pisa realized the strategic importance of the castle of Livorno which owned since 1103 and in 1377 the Doge Gambacorti of the Republic of Pisa built a quadrangular Fort called Quadratura dei Pisani (Quartered of the Pisans) on plans attributed to Puccio di Landuccio and Francesco di Giovanni Giordani. The project to build Fortezza Vecchia was commissioned to Antonio da Sangallo the Elder in 1506, the fortress had to incorporate the existing Pisan and Genovese constructions.
The works started in 1518 on order of the Cardinal Giulio De’ Medici under the supervision by Nicolao da Pietrasanta. The construction was suspended since the popular revolt forced the Medici in exile and was resumed in 1530 on their return.
Fortezza Vecchia is a massive fortification completed on April 1, 1534 under Alessandro de’ Medici; it was built in red-brick with sloping walls and the interposition of clear stones, it has a quadrangular plant with a perimeter of 1500 meters and was equipped with 24 cannons to protect each side.
Official website of Livorno: comune.livorno.it