At the beginning of the 13th century, the Municipality of Bologna expropriated several buildings to create the wonderful Piazza Maggiore, and erected the first complex of palaces destined for public administration, starting with Palazzo del Podesta.
Proving insufficient for the needs of the city’s government, between 1244 and 1246, Palazzo Re Enzo was built as an extension of Palazzo del Podesta.
In 1453, Aristotile Fioravanti renovated the Romanesque facade of the palace in a Renaissance style, at the behest of Giovanni II Bentivoglio, although he never finished the work due to the expulsion of the Bentivoglio family from the city.
The great Hall of the Podesta (Salone del Podesta), located on the upper floor, once a courtroom, was used from 1581 to 1767 as a public theater, and, later, as a playing field for ball games. The hall was completely frescoed by Adolfo De Carolis at the beginning of the 20th century, with The Glories of the City of Bologna.
Today, Palazzo del Podesta is a prestigious venue for exhibitions and events.
Together with Palazzo Re Enzo, Palazzo del Podesta forms a large architectural complex crossed by two roads. The intersection of the roads is called Mayor’s Vault (Voltone del Podesta). Here, under the Vault, in 1525, were placed the terracotta statues of the city’s protectors: Saints Petronius, Proculus, Dominic and Francis, all works of Alfonso Lombardi.
Above the complex, stands Torre dell’Arengo, a quadrangular brick tower built in 1259, to replace the original wooden structure dating back to 1212, whose bell called the people in case of extraordinary events. The Arengo Tower is 47 meters in height.
On the ground floor, overlooking Piazza Maggiore, there is a beautiful portico. The pillars of the portico are decorated with hundreds of tiles with floral motifs, all different from each other.
TIP: Under the Voltone del Podesta, you can experience a particular acoustic effect. Two people, standing under two opposite corners of the vault, can hear each other clearly even when they whisper.
HOW TO GET THERE
Palazzo del Podesta is located about 1.4 kilometers away from the Bologna Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is located in Piazza Maggiore, a few meters away, on the bus Lines 29, A, C and T2.