The Port of Ancona lies on the eastern Adriatic shores of central Italy about 126 nautical miles southeast of the Port of Venice. It is also some 250 kilometers northeast of the Port of Civitavecchia (Rome's main port) on the western shores of the Italian peninsula. Capital of Ancona province, the Port of Ancona was home to over 98 thousand people in 2000.
Greek settlers from Syracuse first settled the Port of Ancona area in the early 4th Century BC and built the first pier in the harbor. Merchants from Greece established a Tyrian purple (the royal or imperial purple) in the Port of Ancona. As a Roman port, the Port of Ancona had its own coins, and its people still spoke Greek.
While the date it became a Roman colony is not known, historians know that Rome had a naval station in the Port of Ancona during the 178 BC Illyrian War. During the Imperial Rome era, the Port of Ancona was an important harbor serving trade with Dalmatia on the opposite side of the Adriatic Sea.
Emperor Trajan built the north quay in the Port of Ancona in 115 AD. The senate and people of Rome erected the marble triumphal arch at the beginning of the quay in honor of its architect, Apollodorus of Damascus.
When the Carolingians conquered southern Italy in the late 8th Century, the Port of Ancona was made capital of the Marca di Ancona. After the end of the 10th Century, the Port of Ancona became progressively more independent, eventually becoming an important maritime republic that also contained the central Italian cities of Gaeta, Trani, and Ragusa. The republic often struggled with the great power of Venice.
Six elders ruled the Port of Ancona. It had its own coins and laws, and the Byzantine Empire was a frequent ally. In the early 12th Century, ships from the Port of Ancona participated in three different Crusades.
Unlike other cities in northern and central Italy, the Port of Ancona became a feudal seignory only once during the Medieval period. Taking advantage of the Black Death in 1348, the House of Malatesta took the city and destroyed many of its historic buildings. The Malatesta were driven from the city in 1383.
The Port of Ancona finally lost its independence when it became part of the Papal States in 1532 under Pope Clement VII. The Citadel was the impressive symbol of papal authority. The Port of Ancona was one of only three cities where Jews could live after 1569. The ghetto in the Port of Ancona was built in 1555 and housed the Jewish population.
Pope Clement XII expanded the Port of Ancona's quay and built the Lazaretto in the south harbor. In 1880, the southern quay was added and forts were constructed to protect the harbor.
When Napoleon conquered northern Italy in 1797, the Port of Ancona was an important fortress. The French held the Port of Ancona until 1860 when Christophe Leon Louis Juchault de Lamoriciere surrendered to Italian forces.
In 1944, Polish troops took the Port of Ancona in the Allies' effort to get a seaport nearer their forces to the north and to support their advance into northern Italy.
After World War II, the Port of Ancona pursued extensive efforts to rebuilt the piers and docks, the yards, and the shipping business that had thrived before the war. Today, the Port of Ancona is a busy commercial port, and it contains one of the Mediterranean's most active international airports.