The religious landscapes of Republican-era urban communities in central and southern Italy were built on complex relationships between the inhabitants and their sacred spaces. The critical need to defend sacred sites such as temples, shrines and altars contributed directly to the shaping of urban centers and the formation of their cultural identities. Many urban centers had a separate citadel where communities protected their sanctuaries behind fortifications. In a reciprocal process the gods protected settlements. Some city gates (e.g., Volterra, Perugia, Falerii Novi) still carry prominent adornments in the form of busts and reliefs that evoke implicit civic and religious associations. The deities' presence implies a complex political and social interaction between the population, protective gods, and fortifications. As tutelary deities, their manipulation whether by a local élite or by a power such as Rome was an important part of the definition and appropriation of local identity.