The name of the palace changed over time, depending on the institution it hosted. At first, it was Palazzo dell’Archivio during the Middle Ages, then Palazzo dei Priori after the Florentine conquest of 1409, and finally Palazzo del Consiglio dei Dodici, when it passed into the hands of the Order of the Knights of Saint Stephen. The Council of the 12 Knights was, in fact, a decision-making body of the Order.
At the end of the 16th century, the palace was renovated by the architect Pietro Francavilla, who also sculpted the statue of Cosimo I located in front of the nearby Palazzo dei Cavalieri.
Francavilla brought the palace in line with the surrounding buildings, in terms of height, with a facade decorated in late Renaissance style. The works were completed in 1603, under the Grand Duchy of Ferdinando I de’ Medici, but the transition to the Order of the Knights of Saint Stephen was made only in 1691, when the priors moved to Palazzo Gambacorti.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The facade of the palace is characterized by an orange plaster, on which the white marble decorations stand out – the window frames, the portal flanked by two columns, the windows with balustrades on the main floor, the stringcourses, the coat of arms, the corner reinforcements and the cornice.
Inside, there are numerous works of art, such as the 16th-century bust of Ferdinand I, and a fragment of the fresco of the Assumption, work of the school of Domenico Ghirlandaio.
The Audience Hall (Salone dell’Udienza) is spectacular, with the walls completely painted by Pietro Paolo Lippi and Antonio Giusti between 1681 and 1683, and the remarkable carved, gilded and painted ceiling with the Cardinal Virtues by Ventura Salimbeni.
In the center of the ceiling, there is the Triumph of Saint Stephen by Giovanni Camillo Gabrielli, which replaced Salimbeni’s Triumph of Pisa after the building became the property of the Order.
HOW TO GET THERE
Palazzo del Consiglio dei Dodici is located about 1.4 kilometers away from the Pisa Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is Corsica, located about 130 meters away, on the bus Line Navetta E.