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The Fortezza Vecchia (literally “old fortress”) rises on a granite promontory near Capo Carbonara, overlooking the sea. It was built in 1580-1590, perhaps to fortify a pre-existing structure dating back to the 14th century. It is part of a coastal defence system wanted by Philip II of Spain against Barbaresque raids. Garrisoned in 1590-91, it had an important role until 1847. Originally the fortress had a triangular shape. In 1790 it became quadrangular and small ramparts were added on the four corners, giving the fortress its characteristic star shape.