Sabbioneta is a town and comune in the province of Mantua. Sabbioneta was founded by Vespasiano I Gonzaga in the late 16th century along the ancient Roman Via Vitelliana, on a sandy bank of the Po; he was its first duke, using it as a personal fortress and residence.

In 2008, Sabbioneta was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List as a recognition of its perfect example of practical application of Renaissance urban planning theories.

Buildings

The Ducal Palace (now the Town Hall) was the first significant building to be built by Vespasiano Gonzaga in his ideal city. The ground floor has a beautiful portico covered with marble. The noble floor is enhanced by the so-called golden rooms, with the vault of gilded and painted wood.

The Teatro all'antica ('Theater in the style of the ancients') was the first free-standing, purpose-built theater in the modern world. It was constructed in 1588 and 1590 by the celebrated Vicentine architect Vincenzo Scamozzi. The Teatro all'antica is the second-oldest surviving indoor theater in the world and is one of only three Renaissance theaters still in existence.

Galleria degli Antichi and Palazzo del Giardino are adjacent, contemporaneous, Renaissance-style buildings. Prior to 1797, the buildings were connected to the Rocca or Castle of Sabbioneta (razed by Napoleon's forces during the Siege of Mantua), and the gallery once housed the Gonzaga collection of antique Roman statuary and hunting trophies. While the architectural design of the gallery is striking, the richness of the interior decoration of the palazzo is also dazzling.

Chiesa della Beata Vergine Incoronata church was erected in 1586-1588 at the site were a prior church dedicated to San Niccolò was located. It was commissioned by Vespasiano Gonzaga. The church has an octagonal layout, similar to the Bramantesque church of Santa Maria Incoronata in Lodi. The church has eight surrounding chapels, one with Vespasiano's funereal monument, were decorated mainly in the 18th century. The frescoes in the church were painted with quadratura in 1768 by a team led by Antonio Galli Bibiena.

Sabbioneta is also known for its historic Jewish Ghetto and Synagogue, and in particular for its Hebrew printing-press. In 1551 Tobias Foa set up the press; he had, however, published certain 'anti-Christian books' and his career was 'forcibly ended'. His work and possibly his type were taken up by a Christian printer, Vicenzo Conte.

 

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Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.