All Places in Mantua

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    Palazzo Ducale

    Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace), also known as the Gonzaga Palace, is a large complex of historical buildings in Mantua, located in the beautiful Piazza Sordello.   SHORT HISTORY Starting with 1308, Palazzo Ducale was the official residence of the lords of Mantua, belonging at first to the Bonacolsi family, until 1328, when it became the residence of the Gonzaga family, who ruled the city until 1707. Distinct buildings were built in different eras, starting with the 13th century, initially by the Bonacolsi family, and subsequently by the Gonzagas. It was Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga who commissioned the architect Giovan Battista Bertani to connect the various buildings into an organic form, to create starting from 1556 a single grandiose monumental and architectural complex, one of the largest in Europe, which stretched between the shore of Lake Inferiore and Piazza Sordello. Bertani died in 1576, and the work was continued by the architect Bernardino Facciotto, who completed the gardens, squares, arcades, galleries, exedras and courtyards, definitively fixing the appearance of the ducal palace. During the Gonzaga domination, the palace gradually expanded, both with the addition of new buildings and by modifying the existing ones. The complex includes Corte Vecchia (Old Court), composed of Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Te

    Palazzo Te is a Renaissance palace located in the suburban area of Mantua. The complex is now the seat of the Civic Museum and since 1990 of the International Center of Art and Culture of Palazzo Te.   SHORT HISTORY When Francesco II Gonzaga died in 1519, his son, Federico II, became Marquis of Mantua, and decided to transform a swampy area south of the city into a place for leisure and festive receptions. The architect Giulio Romano, a pupil of Raphael, was commissioned to design the palace. By alternating the architectural elements with the natural ones that the area offered, sublimely decorating rooms and facades, the architect put all his imagination and skill in the construction of Palazzo Te. The palace was completed in 1534, 10 years after the beginning of the works. In July 1630, during the War of the Mantuan Succession, the palace was sacked over three days by an Imperial army of 36,000 mercenaries. Palazzo Te was looted and remained empty for a long time.   ARCHITECTURE Palazzo Te has a square plan, with a large courtyard in the center, which once hosted a labyrinth. The courtyard has four entrances on all four sides, and the Read more [...]

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    Hotel Casa Poli

    Hotel Casa Poli is a 4-Star hotel in Mantua, located in Corso Garibaldi 32, about 850 meters from Piazza Sordello and Palazzo Ducale, and about 1.3 kilometers from Palazzo Te. Casa Poli is a design hotel set in a 19th-century building, which offers stylish rooms, a courtyard garden, and free WiFi throughout the property. The rooms, fitted with light or dark parquet floors, have minimalist décor. All the rooms are air-conditioned and have satellite TV. The private luxury bathroom has free toiletries and a hairdryer. A sweet breakfast is provided daily, including fresh traditional Mantuan pastries.   HOW TO GET THERE Hotel Casa Poli is located about 1.4 kilometers away from the Mantua railway station. The closest bus stop, Garibaldi 2, is a few meters away from the hotel, on the bus Lines 5, 7E and CC.

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    Grand Hotel San Lorenzo

    Grand Hotel San Lorenzo is a 4-Star hotel in Mantua, located in Piazza Concordia, a few meters away from Rotonda di San Lorenzo and Piazza delle Erbe. Grand Hotel San Lorenzo features accommodation with a bar, private parking, a shared lounge and a terrace. The accommodation provides a 24-hour front desk, room service and luggage storage for guests. The rooms are equipped with a desk, a kettle, a minibar, a safety deposit box, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bidet. All rooms have a wardrobe.   HOW TO GET THERE Grand Hotel San Lorenzo is located about 1 kilometer away from the Mantua railway station. The closest bus stop, Concordia, is near the hotel, on the bus Line CC.

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    Teatro Sociale

    Teatro Sociale (Social Theater) is the largest historical theater of Mantua, located in the center of the city, in Piazza Felice Cavallotti.   SHORT HISTORY At the end of the Napoleonic period, there were two theaters in Mantua: Teatro Regio, built in 1783 by Giuseppe Giorgio Pietro Baldassarre Piermarini, and the Scientific Theater (Teatro Scientifico), built by Antonio Bibiena in 1769. Both theaters were located outside the city center, and the need for a new theater centrally located appeared at the beginning of the 19th century. On January 12, 1817, a special commission of notable citizens was formed to find a designer for the new theater. The commission chose not to risk it and turned to the well-known designer Luigi Canonica, former royal architect and the author of notable projects such as the enlargement of Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the new hall of Teatro Grande in Brescia and the rebuilding of Teatro della Concordia in Cremona. On June 24, 1818, the first stone was laid in the presence of Count Ferdinando Arrivabene, the Marquis Francesco Zanetti, Luigi Preti and the architect Giovanni Battista Marconi, in charge of supervising the works. Teatro Sociale was completed in 1822 and opened on Read more [...]

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    Palazzo della Ragione

    Palazzo della Ragione is a medieval palace located in the historical center of Mantua, in Piazza delle Erbe, adjacent to Palazzo del Podesta.   SHORT HISTORY Palazzo della Ragione was built around the year 1250 on the ruins of a building located next to Rotonda di San Lorenzo. The palace was later used as the Town Hall and then as a market. During the Gonzaga’s lordship, the palace was joined to Palazzo del Podesta, and used in the 15th century as the Palace of Justice, hence the name of Palazzo della Ragione. The external portico towards Piazza Erbe and the adjacent Clock Tower date from that period. Palazzo della Ragione was renovated during the last years of the 17th century and the first years of the 18th century, based on a project by the architect Doricilio Moscatelli, known as Battaglia. During this period, the facade of the palace was radically transformed, with the removal of the original windows and the opening of new ones. In 1942, on a project by the Mantuan architect Aldo Andreani, the original facade and the interior of the palace were restored. Palazzo della Ragione was damaged by the earthquake of May 29, 2012, but was Read more [...]

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    Palazzo del Podesta

    Palazzo del Podesta, also known as Palazzo del Broletto, is a medieval palace located in the historical center of Mantua, between Piazza delle Erbe and Piazza Broletto, adjacent to Palazzo della Ragione.   SHORT HISTORY Palazzo del Podesta was commissioned in 1227 by Laudarengo Martinengo from Brescia, appointed podesta of Mantua, and built starting with the same year. In 1241, a fire destroyed the palace, which was then restored, enlarged and equipped with battlements. During the same time, Torre del Broletto was also rebuilt and Palazzo del Podesta became a symbol of the new municipal values. In 1413, the palace was set on fire again. The arsonist was, probably, Gianfrancesco Gonzaga, who, after the rise to power of the Gonzaga family, wanted to eliminate the symbolic building of the previous administration. In the 15th century, after many decades of neglect, Palazzo del Podesta was recovered and, between 1462 and 1464, it was renovated in Renaissance style after a design by Luca Fancelli, commissioned by the Marquis Ludovico II Gonzaga. The works were supervised by the architect Giovanni Antonio D’Arezzo. Many of the changes made by Luca Fancelli in the 15th century were eliminated in 1941, during the restoration campaign carried Read more [...]

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    Piazza Castello

    Piazza Castello, formerly known as Prato di Castello, is one of the most significant squares in the historical center of Mantua. The square is located inside the Ducal Palace, adjacent to the imposing Castello di San Giorgio, and is accessed from Piazza Sordello through a monumental entrance resembling a triumphal arch, frescoed on the inside, work of the architect Antonio Maria Viani.   SHORT HISTORY Piazza Castello was built in the 16th century by the architect Giovanni Battista Bertani, a pupil of Giulio Romano. Bertani was promoted after Romano’s death to the post of prefect of the ducal studio (chief architect) of the Gonzagas, a position he held between 1549 and 1576.   ARCHITECTURE The square is the largest open space inside the Palazzo Ducale complex, and is surrounded on three sides by elegant late 16th-century arcades, probably designed by Bertani, decorated with frescoed festoons of flowers and fruit. Besides the monumental entrance, Antonio Maria Viani is responsible also for the exedra in front of it, once the entrance to the St. Giorgio’s Castle. On the western side of the square, the only one without arcades, are the rooms of the ancient chancellery. To the south of the square, there Read more [...]

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    Piazza delle Erbe

    Piazza delle Erbe is one of the main squares in Mantua. Together with the nearby Piazza Sordello, Piazza delle Erbe was the center of the civil power of Mantua for about 800 hundred years.   SHORT HISTORY Piazza delle Erbe began to take shape towards the end of the 12th century, when a vast unpaved land on the eastern side of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea was used as a venue for the cattle market. The space in front of Via di Sant’Andrea, now Via Broletto, where shops were already built, was divided in two by Palazzo del Podesta, also known as Palazzo del Broletto, built in 1227. On the eastern side of the square, between Palazzo del Podesta and the Rotonda di San Lorenzo, Palazzo della Ragione was built around the middle of the 12th century. During the domination of the Bonacolsi and later of the Gonzagas, the administrative and political power center moved gradually from Piazza delle Erbe to the new Piazza San Pietro, now Piazza Sordello. In 1455, in the western corner of the square, the House of the Merchant Giovan Boniforte da Concorezzo was built, decorated in late Gothic style with Venetian terracotta. In the second half Read more [...]

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    Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo

    The Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo (Duomo di Mantova) is the Cathedral of Mantua, dedicated to Saint Peter, located in Piazza Sordello, between Palazzo Bianchi and Palazzo Ducale.   SHORT HISTORY A first church of early Christian origin was erected on this site in the 5th century, and destroyed by a fire in 894. The church was rebuilt in Romanesque style in the 11th century, probably by Matilda di Canossa, and became the Cathedral of Mantua. The bell tower belongs to this era. The current church was rebuilt and enlarged between 1395 and 1401, at the behest of Francesco I Gonzaga. The splendid long lost marble facade of the church, equipped with a porch, rose windows and pinnacles, designed by Jacobello and Pierpaolo dalle Masegne, can be found in a painting by Domenico Morone preserved in the Ducal Palace. During these years, the Cathedral was flanked by two rows of Gothic chapels, decorated with marble and terracotta spiers and cusps, also designed by Jacobello dalle Masegne, whose wall structure is still visible on the right side of the church. In 1545, the Cathedral was renovated by Giulio Romano, who left the facade and the perimeter walls intact, but substantially modified Read more [...]

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    Piazza Sordello

    Piazza Sordello is a beautiful square in Mantua, dedicated to the Mantuan troubadour of the 13th century, Sordello da Goito.   SHORT HISTORY The square was built in 1330, after the demolition of some old buildings located between two parallel streets that followed the urban design of the ancient Roman city. One street, Strada Magna, connected the Vault of San Pietro (Voltone di San Pietro) with the Cathedral, while the other street, Strata Sanctae Mariae Matris Domini, connected the church that gave its name to the Church of Santa Croce, later incorporated into the Ducal Palace. For centuries, Piazza di San Pietro, as it was known then, remained the center of Mantua’s political, social and religious life. In December 2006, the remains of mosaic-decorated floors of an imperial Roman villa were found in the southeast corner of Piazza Sordello. Currently, the archaeological site, awaiting new excavations, is contained in a structure so that it can be viewed by the public.   ARCHITECTURE Most of the buildings located in the square date back to the Middle Ages. To the north of the square, there is the Cathedral of San Pietro (Cattedrale di San Pietro), built between 1395 and 1401, and renovated Read more [...]

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    Rotonda di San Lorenzo

    Rotonda di San Lorenzo is the oldest church in Mantua, located in Piazza delle Erbe, near Palazzo della Ragione.   SHORT HISTORY According to tradition, Rotonda di San Lorenzo was built at the behest of Matilda di Canossa, as an evocation of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, connected to the relic of the Blood of Christ found centuries earlier in Mantua and now preserved in the nearby crypt of the Basilica of Sant’Andrea. On the other hand, the positioning of the structure 1.5 meters below the level of Piazza delle Erbe and the existence of Roman vestiges dated to the 4th century, may suggest that the church was built earlier. The year 1083, which appears on the plaster of the building, may indicate the construction date of the church or a later date when it was renovated. Over the centuries, the church underwent radical transformations. At one point, the project for the renovation of the structure was entrusted to the architect Leon Battista Alberti. Later, it was Giulio Romano who worked on the building. The church was closed for worship in 1579, at the behest of Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga. Deconsecrated, the structure decayed quickly. It first became Read more [...]

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    Castello di San Giorgio

    Castello di San Giorgio (Saint George’s Castle) is a moated rectangular castle in Mantua, located in the northeastern corner of the city. The castle is part of the Ducal Palace.   SHORT HISTORY Castello di San Giorgio was commissioned by Francesco I Gonzaga to the architect Bartolino da Novara, and built on the ruins of the Church of Santa Maria di Capo di Bove between 1395 and 1406. In 1458, the architect Luca Fancelli, at the behest of the Marquis Ludovico II Gonzaga, renovated the castle, which definitively lost its military and defensive functions. The castle was for many years the residence of Isabella d’Este, wife of Francesco II Gonzaga, one of the most famous noblewomen of the Renaissance. As the Lady of the manor, Isabella invited numerous artists and humanists of the time at the castle, such as the painters Andrea Mantegna and Pietro Perugino, the polymath Leonardo da Vinci, or the poets Ludovico Ariosto and Baldassarre Castiglione. The castle remained the Gonzaga residence for about a century, until Guglielmo Gonzaga moved his apartments to the renovated Palazzo Ducale. Starting with 1815, after the Austrian occupation of the city, the castle became a maximum security prison where opponents of Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Bianchi

    Palazzo Bianchi, also known as Palazzo Vescovile (Episcopal Palace), is a palace located in Mantua, in Piazza Sordello, in front of the Ducal Palace, between the Cathedral of San Pietro and Ca’ degli Uberti.   SHORT HISTORY A first building on this site belonged to the Agnelli family, who ceded it to Rinaldo Bonacolsi at the beginning of the 14th century. With the sack of Mantua of 1630, which took place during the War of the Mantuan Succession, the building suffered extensive damage, and some parts of it were demolished. When the noble Negri family, which owned the palace since 1582, became extinct, the property was inherited by the Porta family. The current appearance of the palace dates back to the middle of the 18th century, when it was built by Count Guido Porta, replacing two pre-existing buildings. The count sold it in 1756 to the Marquis Giuseppe Bianchi. The construction works ended in 1765, when a spectacular staircase was added. Around the same time, Giuseppe Bazzani frescoed the vaulted ceilings on the first floor. In 1814, an internal courtyard and an attic were added, and the facade of the palace was adorned with a coat of arms and statues Read more [...]

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    Palazzo Bonacolsi

    Palazzo Bonacolsi, also known as Palazzo Castiglioni, is a Gothic palace in Mantua, located in the beautiful Piazza Sordello, opposite the Ducal Palace. Today, a tavern and a guesthouse are set in the palace, Taverna Bonacolsi and, respectively, Palazzo Castiglioni Luxury Suites.   SHORT HISTORY Palazzo Bonacolsi was built at the end of the 13th century by Pinamonte Bonacolsi on land purchased from Rolandino de Pacis. Pinamonte acquired and incorporated into the palace other nearby buildings, including the Tower of the Cage (Torre della Gabbia), symbol of the power of the Bonacolsi. The Bonacolsi family ruled Mantua from the beginning of the 13th century and until August 16, 1328, when Rinaldo, the last of the Bonacolsi, was overthrown during a revolt supported by Luigi I Gonzaga, who seized the power. Starting with 1328, the palace became the property of the Gonzaga family. First, Luigi I Gonzaga owned the palace, then the building passed to his son, the Marquis Gianfrancesco I Gonzaga, who passed it further to his son, Alessandro Gonzaga. Alessandro died young, and his brother, Ludovico, became the new owner of the palace. Between 1479 and 1487, the palace was the residence of the Countess of Rodigo Antonia del Read more [...]

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    Basilica of Sant’Andrea

    The Basilica of Sant’Andrea is a Renaissance church in Mantua, located in Piazza Andrea Mantegna. Inside the crypt of the basilica, two reliquaries with earth soaked in the Precious Blood of Christ are preserved.   MOST PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST According to tradition, the Roman centurion Longinus pierced the side of the crucified Jesus with the Sacred Spear to ascertain whether He was dead or not. The soldier collected some of the blood in a vessel and returned to Italy. He stopped in Mantua in 37 AD, burying the precious relic in a small box, with the inscription Jesu Christi Sanguis on it. In the year 804, the small box next to his tomb was unearthed and the relic was officially recognized by the Catholic Church and approved for worship by Pope Leo III. Particles of the Precious Blood were transfered to the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, to the Church of Santa Croce in Guastalla, to the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome and to the Abbey of Saint Martin in Weingarten.   SHORT HISTORY A first church dedicated to Sant’Andrea was built on this site in 1046 at the behest of Beatrice of Lotharingia, mother of Matilde di Canossa, Read more [...]

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    Palazzo D’Arco

    Palazzo D’Arco is a Neoclassical palace in Mantua, located in Piazza Carlo D’Arco. Today, the palace houses the Museum of Palazzo d’Arco, which displays the art collected over time by the D’Arco family.   SHORT HISTORY The D’Arco family settled permanently in Mantua in 1740, and by the marriage of Francesco Alberto d’Arco with one of the Chieppo family’s heirs, they acquired the residence of the latter. In 1784, Count Giovanni Battista Gherardo d’Arco commissioned the architect Antonio Colonna to rebuild the facade of the residence in Neoclassical style. The result was a remarkable example of an aristocratic palace rich in furnishings and paintings, with a library, a naturalistic collection and a beautiful garden enclosed by an exedra. In 1872, Francesco Antonio d’Arco bought from the Dalla Valle family two Renaissance buildings in the immediate vicinity of the palace, and incorporated them into the complex. The stables were built on the left side of the palace, a construction which later was transformed into the Teatrino d’Arco, seat of the Francesco Campogalliani Theater Academy since 1946. The last exponent of the family, who died in 1973, Giovanna dei Conti d’Arco Chieppio Ardizzoni, Marquise Guidi di Bagno, established the Arco Foundation, and Read more [...]

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    Church of San Sebastiano

    The Church of San Sebastiano, also known as the Temple of San Sebastiano, is an Early Renaissance church in Mantua, located in the immediate vicinity of Palazzo Te.   SHORT HISTORY Ludovico III Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, commissioned the construction of the Church of San Sebastiano to the architect Leon Battista Alberti. Alberti, ten years later, designed also the magnificent Basilica of Sant’Andrea for the same member of the Gonzaga family. The construction of the church was begun around 1460 by Alberti, but was completed after the death of the architect by Luca Fancelli, at the beginning of the 16th century. Fancelli also completed Alberti’s other project, the Basilica of Sant’Andrea. The church was consecrated in 1529, underwent a first restoration at the beginning of the 17th century, and another arbitrary intervention in 1926.   ARCHITECTURE Alberti designed an austere and solemn building. The church has a Greek cross plan, with three identical short apses, under a central cross-vaulted space without any interior partitions. The church is divided on two levels. The lower one is the crypt, which was intended to serve as a mausoleum for the Gonzaga family. The upper level is now accessed from two outer staircases added Read more [...]