Mantova Palazzo Ducale

This is an excerpt from the book “Mantua a complete guide” by Enrico Massetti.
Mantova, Palazzo Ducale – Photo © andrea castelli

PALAZZO DUCALE (Gonzaga Palace)
This complex of buildings is extremely interesting, both for the beauty of the rooms as well as for its art collections.The whole body of buildings, which were erected, enlarged and restructured in different periods (XIII – XVIII century) covers a total area of about 34.000 sq.m., some parts of which stand out distinctly:

  • Domus Magna
  • Palazzo del Capitano
  • Castello di San Giorgio
  • Chiesa di Santa Barbara

and a series of courtyards, small squares and gardens.

The “Captain’s Palace”, together with the Domus Magna, is the oldest part of the whole complex (1200 A.D.) and an important testimony to medieval Mantuan architecture.

Palazzo Ducale - Photo © stijn
Palazzo Ducale – Photo © stijn

The two buildings can today be seen on the eastern side of Piazza Sordello.

The Saint George Castle was built between 1300 A.D. and 1400 A.D. to strengthen both the military and political power of the Gonzaga, who entrusted its plans to the architect Bartolino da Novara .

In 1459 the building was turned into a residence. Inside, visitors can see the famous “Camera degli Sposi” by Andrea Mantegna.

The Church of Saint Barbara, designed by Giovan Battista Bertani, was built around the middle of the sixteenth-century.

It houses wooden sculptures dating back to the end of the seventeenth-century, as well as precious sacred vestments.

The Hanging Garden (Giardino Pensile), designed by P. Pedemonte and built in 1579, is well worth a visit.

mantova-camera-degli-sposi – Photo © B. Balestrini

The central nucleus of the political life under the patronage of the House of Gonzaga, Palazzo Ducale also became the center of artistic life.

Among its guests internationally famous artists such as Mantegna, Pisanello, Giulio Romano, and Rubens, who decorated and enriched the various parts of the palace with paintings, frescoes, tapestries, statues, decorations and extremely refined furnishings.
Courtesy in part of Mantova e Dintorni