Palazzo Martinengo Palatini is a beautiful palace in Brescia, located in Piazza del Mercato. Built in the 15th century and completely rebuilt at the beginning of the 18th century, is one of the most elegant Baroque palaces of the city.
In 1457, Giovanni Martinengo bought a piece of land in the area where the ancient medieval walls were located. With other successive purchases, the family became the owner of the entire space between Piazza delle Erbe, now Piazza del Mercato, Corso Palestro and Via Fratelli Porcellaga.
In 1479, the sons of Giovanni were appointed palatine counts by the Emperor Maximilian of Austria, which generated the new family branch of the Martinengo Palatini.
One of their descendants, Teofilo, decided to demolish the 15th-century palace and to build a new one. Teofilo began the construction, but never see it finished, dying in the early 18th century. The palace was finally completed by his son, Curzio III, in 1710.
With the extinction of the family branch in 1874, the building was donated to the Municipality of Brescia, which set up some offices in the palace, as well as the Musical Institute Venturi, which used the main hall as an auditorium for its concerts.
In 1928, the Municipality sold the building to the Cassa Nazionale Infortuni (National Fund for Accidents), which undertook radical renovations as part of the urban renewal works in the historic city center.
In 1945, during the Second World War, the building was seriously damaged by bombing. The complete restoration took place in the following years. In 1985, the University of Brescia acquired the building and, after a long period of restoration, in 2000, established here the headquarters of the rectorate and some administrative offices.
On the facade of the palace, stands out the cornice with scrolled corbels, surmounted by the statues of Mars and Minerva attributed to Santo Calegari the Elder. The rich and elegant frames of the windows and the beautiful portal, combined with the overlying balcony, make the facade particularly varied and sumptuous.
The portal is framed by Ionic pilasters decorated by festoons with a lion’s head, that support the balcony. On the sides, there are two other smaller doors.
The three windows of the central body have rich ornaments, with volutes on the jambs, balustrade window sills and alternately triangular and semicircular broken pediments. One of the windows of the side wings also have a balustrade window sill, while the other has a balcony that repeats the motif of the central balcony.
As you pass the central portal, you enter a courtyard with a portico supported by columns in Tuscan order. Four doors, with very rich Baroque jambs, open onto the atrium.
Opposite the entrance, the portico is interrupted by an entrance hall that perhaps led to the stables. The original grand staircase of the palace was replaced in 1930 by the current staircase, with two flights, located in the southwest corner of the courtyard.
Inside, remarkable is the central hall on the first floor, Salone Apollo, for the stucco frames on the walls that delimit the frescoes made by Giulio Quaglio in 1714.
The back of the palace on Via Fratelli Porcellaga has a facade inspired by sober classical lines, with a slight ashlar and a wide portal in the center, dominated by a broken tympanum. On the upper level, the portal corresponds to a balcony flanked by marble niches. On the right, another portal gives access to the courtyard of the building.
HOW TO GET THERE
Palazzo Martinengo Palatini is located about 750 meters from the Brescia railway station. The closest Metro station is Vittoria, about 130 meters away, and the closest bus stop is in Via Fratelli Porcellaga 17, about 40 meters away, on the bus Lines 9 and 15.