Studies concerning the complex defense system in Messina have mostly focused on aspects related to the history of defense structures and military strategy in the years before the Unification of Italy. Events concerning the demolition of those structures after unification, initially provoked, as in several other cases, by ideological reasons, but actually supported, later, by socio-economic, demographic and, last but not least, utilitarian factors, have however been less studied. Soon after the conquest of the Cittadella by Garibaldi, a debate on the demolition of the huge five-sided structure (built by Grunemberg after an insurrection against the Spanish domination), of the boundary wall and of the system of forts on the hills surrounding the city was started; the aim was to dismantle the symbols of the invaders oppression. However, the decisions that determined the fate of the forts of Messina, turned out to be quite different. A radical and traumatic change in the economic conditions of the city that witnessed the rapid decline of its ancient role as an industrial and trading power, with the significant loss of importance of its port, along with a long series of disasters that heavily influenced the demographical growth and urban settlement, were the main causes for the process of divestment of these structures. This essay analyses the reasons for, and outcomes of, the process, focusing on the debate which, from 1860, saw the involvement of local administration and central government.
Keywords: Walls Citadel Local Administration State Property