The Ducal Palace of Modena, one of the most important Baroque structures in Italy, was the seat of the House of Este between the 17th and 19th centuries.
Subsequently, since the Italian unification, Palazzo Ducale housed the prestigious Military Academy of Modena (Accademia Militare di Modena).
SHORT HISTORY OF PALAZZO DUCALE
Palazzo Ducale was built starting with 1634 on the site of the ancient Este castle, which during the Middle Ages stood on the city limits and was connected to a navigable canal.
The works, initially entrusted to the architect Gaspare Vigarani, were later continued by Bartolomeo Avanzini. The project was supervised by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.
On June 25, 1805, Napoleon Bonaparte and his wife Giuseppina Beauharnais, after their coronation as sovereigns of the Kingdom of Italy, entered Modena in triumph and lodged in the Ducal Palace, renamed during their visit as Palazzo Nazionale.
Napoleon stayed only one day in the palace, but appropriated numerous works of art and goods from the Este collections.
On September 8, 1943, during the Second World War, the building was requisitioned by the German army, which made it its provincial garrison. During the same year, the garrison of the Italian army was also hosted in the palace.
The following year, Palazzo Ducale housed the investigative political office of the Republican National Guard, which used the attic of the building to torture arrested civilians and partisans.
After the Second World War, the Ducal Palace housed the Military Memorial and the Historical Museum of the Academy, which exhibits weapons, relics and historical uniforms, as well as a precious Library.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF THE DUCAL PALACE
The majestic facade of the palace, characterized by two lateral towers and a central one, was recently restored.
On the right side of the facade, there are pairs of rectangular windows with marble frames, while on the left side the windows have plastered frames.
The central tower has five orders and is rich in decorations. On the ground floor, there is a large portal in the center, flanked by the statues of Hercules and Cerberus on the left side, and of the consul Marco Emilio Lepido, founder of Modena, on the right side.
The second floor is decorated by a balcony on its entire length, has a large window in the center, and two smaller windows sideways. The higher floors of the tower replicate the theme of the lateral wings.
From the central portal, one enters the elegant Court of Honor (Cortile d’Onore). Inside, on the left, there is the Military Shrine (Sacrario Militare), inaugurated by Vittorio Emanuele III and dedicated to the soldiers who died in the war.
Continuing to the left, we can find the impressive Grand Staircase which leads to the upper floor, decorated with niches housing statues.
On the upper floor, there are the historic rooms of the palace, formerly home to the prestigious Este collections.
In the vast central hall (Gran Sala), the ceiling frescoed in 1695 by the painter Marcantonio Franceschini from Bologna is beautiful.
The work, which extends over 440 square meters, depicts Jupiter and Roger crowning the warrior Bradamante with laurels in the benevolent presence of Juno and other Olympic gods.
On the walls of the hall, there are portraits of notables Este dukes and large monochrome war trophies. Two imposing chandeliers illuminate the room.
HOW TO GET TO PALAZZO DUCALE
The Ducal Palace is located about 900 meters away from the Modena railway station. The closest bus stop is in Piazza Roma, a few meters away, on the bus Lines 7A and 11.
Find a place to stay