The Palazzo Ducale di Mantova ('Ducal Palace') is a group of buildings in Mantua, built between the 14th and the 17th century mainly by the noble family of Gonzaga as their royal residence in the capital of their Duchy. The buildings are connected by corridors and galleries and are enriched by inner courts and wide gardens. The complex includes some 500 rooms and occupies an area of c. 34,000 m². Although most famous for Mantegna's frescos in the Camera degli Sposi (Wedding Room), they have many other very significant architectural and painted elements.

The Gonzaga family lived in the palace from 1328 to 1707, when the dynasty died out. The oldest structures, those located on Piazza Sordello square, were built between the 13th century and the 14th century by the Bonacorsi family, who dominated Mantua before being ruled out by the Gonzagas in 1328.

In the late 14th century, an imposing fortress, the Castle of Saint George, was built near the city’s lakefront. The castle was designed by military architect Bartolino da Novara as a defensive structure aimed at protecting the heart of the town, and subsequently converted into the main residence of the Gonzaga family.

In 1556, Guglielmo Gonzaga took the decision to merge those buildings into a single, grandiose architectural complex. Therefore, a number of late Renaissance-style courtyards, gardens, passages, porticoes, and new wings were built in the second half of the 16th century after designs by some of the most renowned architects and artists of the time, including Giulio Romano, Giovan Battista Bertani, and Antonio Maria Viani.

Subsequently, the buildings saw a sharp decline, which was halted in the 20th century with a continuing process of restoration and the designation of the area as museum. In 1998, a hidden room was discovered by Palace scholars. The room is thought to have been used for performances of Monteverdi's music in the late 16th century.

 

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Founded: 14th century
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Italy

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Roberto Chiaveri (8 months ago)
Great art, not enough info :/ The path is sometimes indicated in a subtle way, so it’s easy to skip parts of the visit. While there are extensive descriptions for the main artworks and rooms, the rest of the labels are quite short and don’t provide much info. You can book tickets online and the queue is shorter, but why don’t allow the purchase online altogether? So: the art, the rooms, the history… all great. But as a museum it should be designed and managed better. Whoever is running things in this potentially fabulous attraction should do better to do it justice.
Oxana Mereutsa (12 months ago)
Mantova is a very nice beautiful antique town. Palazzo Ducale is an old and must visit castle. I wanted to see residential apartments, but access is denied. It is possible to see only the bedroom of queen. The frescoes by Andrea Mantegna are gorgeous.
Eline Bruynseraede (14 months ago)
The guide gave this place the highest rating so we decided to visit the palazzo. Personally, I did not enjoy much of the castle as most of it is outdated and it cost way too much if you are paying full price. If you are coming here to see frescoes, stay away. You might be an old castle enthusiast - perhaps then this is more to your taste. I enjoyed the courtyard, but it was nothing special really. I don't think I will visit again.
pandorawarhol (15 months ago)
Very nice and intuitive museum. Don’t be afraid that you will miss a room. You won’t ?
Andrea R (16 months ago)
Unique place and experience. To be visited for it's history and art masterpieces. Ticket price is well worth, but also staying in the surround area of the castle is a beautiful experience. Una meraviglia!
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