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 [...]
In Italy, a residence of a nobleman, usually larger than a regular house, is called palazzo, a term translated into English as palace. In the past, besides residences, the palazzi also functioned as warehouses and office spaces. Many cities in Italy have a Palazzo Ducale, the seat of the local lord. Probably, the city with the most palaces is Venice, mostly located on the banks of the Grand Canal.
Maybe the most important palaces in Italy are Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Palazzo Reale in Caserta, Doge’s Palace in Venice, Palazzo Reale in Milan, Palazzo del Quirinale in Rome, Palazzo Reale in Naples, Palazzo della Ragione in Padua and Palazzo dei Priori in Perugia. With so many palaces, it is hard to decide which are the most beautiful and worth visiting, and that is why we suggest that you visit them all.
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]