The Santa Barbara fortress in Pistoia, in the southeast corner of the old city walls, was a military complex originally constructed in the 14th century to command the surrounding area. Over the years, the fortress has been significantly modified to what it is today.
The fortress was first built by Florentines on top of the San Barnaba chapel, but it was later torn down by local rebels. The edifice was restored in the 16th century by Cosimo I de’ Medici with the objective of suppressing potential unrest among the local population. The project, led by Nanni Unghero under the guidance of architects Bellucci and Buontalenti, extended the main structure, connecting the fortress and the walls. The defensive ramparts were reinforced, given the new armaments of the time, having moved on from crossbows to firearms. A chapel was also built inside the fortress.
The fortress remains mostly unchanged, despite its redevelopments and varied uses over time. The structure still retains its original squared layout, although all that remains from the Middle Ages are the tower and part of the keep. Medieval reenactments and a festival of concerts and other performances are held at the fort.