Porta Gaza (or Porta dei Preti, also known as Gazza) is situated to the south of the city, close to today’s Via Circonvallazione al Molino, and lies between the extension of walls by Valentinian III and the older walls of the south side of the Roman oppidum, whose battlements are still partly visible today.
There are several hypotheses on the historical origin of the gate: the first suggests that the name ‘Gaza’ refers to the Lombards, for whom the word gahagium, gagium, gazium, gajum means ‘forest’. The gate, later described as the ‘priests’ gate called Gazza’, was in fact surrounded by a ditch.
According to written documentation, the first mention of the gate refers to the year 1186, a period in which it is said to have served as access to the castellum of the counts Gazi. However, we know for certain that in 1338, Archbishop Francesco Michiel granted the so-called ‘quartiere gazo’ in emphyteusis to Raniero (son of the Count of Cunnio), with the obligation of personally taking care of this stretch of fortification. From a historical note referring to the fifteenth century we know that there was also a small fort near the gate.
The gate was closed at the end of the sixteenth century and then rebuilt for the “ornament and benefit of the city” in 1750, by order of Archbishop Ferdinando Romualdo Guiccioli, as shown by the epigraph above the arch. Damaged during World War II, it was restored to the form it still has today.
The door is made of brick, except for a few decorative elements in marble: the cornices of the attic and the two side wings, the capitals and the keystone of the arch, inside which are the monograms of Mary and Jesus.
The base is made of white limestone and fossil limestone. A masonry crowning structure framed by a band made of another material, with the archbishop’s inscription in the centre, concludes the composition.