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.
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 starting with 1545 by Giulio Romano. The current facade of the church was built between 1756 and 1761 on a design by Nicolò Baschiera.
To the west of the square, we can find Palazzo Bianchi, also known as Palazzo Vescovile, a palace built in the 18th century, replacing two pre-existing buildings. Adjacent to Palazzo Bianchi, there is Ca’ degli Uberti, a palace built in the 14th century by the powerful Uberti family.
Next, we have Palazzo Bonacolsi, also known as Palazzo Castiglioni, a Gothic palace built at the end of the 13th century, and Palazzo Acerbi with the Tower of the Cage (Torre della Gabbia), both built in the 13th century.
On the other side of the square, to the east, there is the Captain’s Palace (Palazzo del Capitano) and Magna Domus, both built before 1328, the year of the rise to power of the Gonzaga family. These two buildings are considered the original nucleus of the so-called Corte Vecchia.
HOW TO GET THERE
Piazza Sordello is located about 1.2 kilometers away from the Mantua railway station. The closest bus stop, Duomo, is located in the northeastern corner of the square, on the bus Lines 4C, 4S, 4T, 6 and 12.