The Napoleonic Fort was built around 1810.
The Viceroy of Italy, stepson of Napoleon I, Emperor and King of Italy and uncle of the future Napoleon III, was one of the many members of Napoleon's family appointed by the Emperor to coordinate the political strategy of the Empire: the Naples Kingdom to his brother Joseph, Westphalia to his brother Jerome and Holland to his brother Louis, later Spain to Joseph succeeded by Murat in Naples. Eugene Beauharnais, just like the other members of the family, had received mandatory instructions from the Emperor regarding the implementation of the continental blockade against England, decided by Napoleon in Berlin following his victory over Prussia in 1806. And the Fort here in Portonovo was to become part of a land and sea system of fortifications for the control on the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, aimed at preventing British and also foreign ships who had called at British ports from carrying on their trade with European countries.
Napoleon had given this definition of Ancona: "a precious base to assure France the dominion over the Adriatic and the expansion routes towards the East". But the reasons why Portonovo was chosen are twofold: the first, to defend Ancona from the south, the second to prevent British vessels sailing in the Adriatic from coming to Portonovo to get their supply of water from the spring situated no more than 200 metres from the Fort. we know in fact that British naval squadrons, some of which may have been involved in the battle of Trafalgar three years before, were stationed in the Ionian Islands. These squadrons also had to control the traffic between Ancona and Dalmatia, acquired by Napoleon a few years before with the victory of Austerlitz and included in the Illyrian Provinces.
If this is the historical context in which the Fort was built, let us now describe its architectural and defensive aspects. Appartently constructed with the stones of the old monastery of Santa maria di Portonovo, according to the experts the Fort is a classical exemple of French military architecture, inspired however by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and perhaps by designs made by Leonardo da Vinci himself three centuries earlier. It has rounded bastions on the beach north of Monte Calcagno on which the Clementine Tower was built. These bastions, which held the cannon batteries, contained the garrisons, and were used both as barracks and as stores of food and ammunition. At the centre of the Fort, well protected by its massive walls, was the commander's quarter perhaps built with the remnants of a Roman temple. According to the historians there were approximaterly 600 soldier of the Italian Kingdom as garrison of the fortress. No information regarding important battles fought here after the construction of the Fort until the fall on Napoleon's Empire is available. After 1815 the building came under the Papal authority and after the battle of Catelfidardo (1860) it became property of the Italian State. Abandoned for years to its harsh destiny, the Fort nearly disapperared. Seen from the top of Monte Conero, it looked like a sunken ship. A stone imperial eagle, Napoleon's emblem, was destroyed by vandals.
In 1960 the Fort underwent major restoration which was carried out fully respecting the original structures.