Cascata Grande di Isola del Liri – Isola del Liri, Italy - Atlas Obscura
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Cascata Grande di Isola del Liri

Isola del Liri, Italy

Italy's only urban waterfall has enchanted artists and travelers for centuries.  

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Celebrated in paintings by Jacob Philipp Hackert in 1777 and by Bidault in 1790 (a painting currently on display at Paris’ Louvre Museum), the Cascata Grande defines the urban plan of the small town of Isola Liri. The town is just one hour east of Rome in the historical region of Ciociaria.

The Liri river splits in two and drops 88 feet (27 meters) from the travertine cliff, which is dominated by the picturesque Boncompagni-Viscogliosi castle. This forms the main waterfall, known as Cascata Grande, the Great Waterfall. 

Today, this is a purely scenic location. However, during the late 16th-century, the residents of Isola Liri harnessed the river’s energy and developed early industrial activities such as paper mills and wool manufacturers. During the 19th-century, hydroelectric plants developed using the power of the waterfalls. They were also very strategic to the kings of Naples.

To learn about the town’s industrial history, visitors can walk from the main bridge overlooking the waterfall to the nearby park constructed around another waterfall.

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