Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy

Doge's Palace

The Venetian Gothic Doge"s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice, opening as a museum in 1923. Today, it is a museum. History  In 810, Doge Angelo Partecipazio moved the seat of government from the island of Malamocco to the area of the present-day Rialto. However, no trace ...
Founded: 1340 | Location: Venice, Italy

Royal Palace of Milan

The Royal Palace of Milan (Palazzo Reale di Milano) was the seat of government of the city for centuries. Today it serves as a cultural centre and home to expositions and exhibitions. Originally designed with a structure of two courtyards, the palace was then partially demolished to make room for the Duomo. The palace is located to the right of the facade of the cathedral opposite the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. T ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Milan, Italy

Doge's Palace

The Doge"s Palace was once the home of the Doges of Genoa. It is now a museum and a centre for cultural events and arts exhibitions. It is situated in the heart of the city, with two different entrances and façades, the main one on Piazza Matteotti, and the second one on Piazza De Ferrari. The first parts of the Palace were built between 1251 and 1275, during the flourishing period of the Republican history of Geno ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Genoa, Italy

Palazzo degli Elefanti

Palazzo degli Elefanti ('Elephants Palace') currently houses the Town Hall of Catania. The palace, located on the northern side of the Cathedral square, was begun in 1696 after the devastating earthquake of 1693, its original designed having been commissioned to Giovan Battista Longobardo. The eastern, southern, and western façades were however designed at a later stage by Giovan Battista Vaccarini, while th ...
Founded: 1696 | Location: Catania, Italy

Cà d'Oro Palace

Palazzo Santa Sofia is known as Ca" d"Oro ('golden house') due to the gilt and polychrome external decorations which once adorned its walls. The palace was built between 1428 and 1430 for the Contarini family, who provided Venice with eight Doges between 1043 and 1676. The architects of the Ca d"Oro were Giovanni Bon and his son Bartolomeo Bon. Following the fall of the Venetian Republic in 179 ...
Founded: 1428-1430 | Location: Venice, Italy

La Fenice

Teatro La Fenice is one of the most famous opera houses in Europe and landmark in the history of Italian theatre. Especially in the 19th century, La Fenice became the site of many famous operatic premieres at which the works of several of the four major bel canto era composers - Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi were performed. Its name reflects its role in permitting an opera company to 'rise from the ashes&a ...
Founded: 1774 | Location: Venice, Italy

Lateran Palace

The Lateran Palace is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main papal residence in southeast Rome. Located on St. John"s Square in Lateran on the Caelian Hill, the edifice is adjacent to the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral church of Rome. From the fourth century, the palace was the principal residence of the popes, and continued so for about a thousand years until the seat ultimately m ...
Founded: 1586 | Location: Rome, Italy

Ca' Rezzonico Palace

Ca" Rezzonico site was previously occupied by two houses belonging to the Bon family, one of Venice"s patrician families. In 1649 the head of the family, Filippo Bon decided to build a large palazzo on the site. For this purpose he employed Baldassarre Longhena, the greatest proponent of Venetian Baroque. However, neither architect nor client was to see the completion of the Palazzo Bon: Longhena died in 1682, a ...
Founded: 1649 | Location: Venice, Italy

Scuola Grande di San Rocco

The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is noted for its collection of paintings by Tintoretto, generally agreed to include some of his finest work. In January 1515 the project of the building was entrusted to Bartolomeo Bon, although some authorities assign it to his son Pietro Bon. In 1524 his work was continued by Sante Lombardo, who, in turn, three years later was replaced by Antonio Scarpagnino. Following his death in 1549, ...
Founded: 1515 | Location: Venice, Italy

Villa d'Este

The Villa d'Este is a 16th-century villa in Tivoli, near Rome, famous for its terraced hillside Italian Renaissance garden and especially for its profusion of fountains: the extraordinary system contains fifty-one fountains and nymphaeums, 398 spouts, 364 water jets, 64 waterfalls, and 220 basins, fed by 875 meters of canals, channels and cascades, and all working entirely by the force of gravity, without pumps. It is now ...
Founded: Italian Renaissance (1550) | Location: Tivoli, Italy

Ca' Foscari Palace

Ca' Foscari, the palace of the Foscari family, is a Gothic building on the waterfront of the Grand Canal in Venice. In 1453 the Republic of Venice regained possession of the older palace and sold it to the Doge of the time, Francesco Foscari; he had the palace demolished and rebuilt in late Venetian gothic style. The building was chosen by the doge for its position on the Grand Canal. Foscari immediately set about rebuil ...
Founded: 1453 | Location: Venice, Italy

Royal Palace of Naples

Royal Palace of Naples was one of the four residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860): the others were the palaces of Caserta, Capodimonte overlooking Naples, and the third Portici, on the slopes of Vesuvius. Construction on the present building was begun in the 17th century by the architect Domenico Fontana. Intended to house the King Phil ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Naples, Italy

Norman Palace

The Palazzo dei Normanni (Norman Palace) was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and served afterwards as the main seat of power for the subsequent rulers of Sicily. The building is the oldest royal residence in Europe; and was the private residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Sicily and the imperial seat of Frederick II and Conrad IV. The palace stands in what is the highest point of the anc ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Palermo, Italy

Palazzo Farnese

Palazzo Farnese is one of the most important High Renaissance palaces in Rome. Owned by the Italian Republic, it was given to the French government in 1936 for a period of 99 years, and currently serves as the French embassy in Italy. First designed in 1517 for the Farnese family, the building expanded in size and conception when Alessandro Farnese became Pope Paul III in 1534, to designs by Antonio da Sangallo the Young ...
Founded: 1514-1534 | Location: Rome, Italy

Palazzo Ducezio

Inspired by French palace architecture of the 17th century, graceful, porticoed Palazzo Ducezio is one of architect Vincenzo Sinatra"s finest works. The lower level, dating from the mid-18th-century, houses the jewel-box Sala degli Specchi (Hall of Mirrors), a richly stuccoed, Louis XV-style room once used as a small theatre. The top floor, built in the mid-20th-century, offers a panoramic terrace with level views of ...
Founded: 1746-1830 | Location: Noto, Italy

Quirinal Palace

The Quirinal Palace is one of the three current official residences of the President of the Italian Republic. It is located on the Quirinal Hill, the highest of the seven hills of Rome. It has housed thirty Popes, four Kings of Italy and twelve presidents of the Italian Republic. The palace extends for an area of 110,500 square metres and is the ninth-largest palace in the world.  The current site of the palace has been ...
Founded: 1583 | Location: Rome, Italy

Palazzo della Ragione

The Palazzo della Ragione is a medieval town hall in Padua. The building, with its great hall on the upper floor, is reputed to have the largest roof unsupported by columns in Europe; the hall is nearly rectangular, its length 81.5m, its breadth 27m, and its height 24 m; the walls are covered with allegorical frescoes; the building stands on arches, and the upper storey is surrounded by an open loggia, not unlike that w ...
Founded: 1172-1219 | Location: Padua, Italy

Loggia dei Militi

The Loggia dei Militi ('Soldiers" Loggia') is a historical building in Cremona. As reported by an inscription on its façade, it was built in 1292. The Loggia was the seat of assemblies for the local 'Società dei Militi'. It is constituted by two rectangular rooms. Under the portico is the coat of arms of Cremona, moved here from the Margherita Gate when the latter was demolished in 1910.
Founded: 1292 | Location: Cremona, Italy

Palazzo Colonna

The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations. The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Rome, Italy

Palazzo Reale

Construction of the present Palazzo Reale began in 1618 for the Balbi family. From 1643-1655, work renewed under the direction of the architects Pier Francesco Cantone and Michele Moncino. In 1677, the palace was sold to the Durazzo Family, who enlarged the palace under the designs of Carlo Fontana. In 1823, the palace was sold to the Royal House of Savoy. From 1919, the palace has belonged to the state. The palace con ...
Founded: 1618 | Location: Genoa, Italy

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.