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.




Your name

Website (optional)


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


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

eranga perera (3 months ago)
Fascinating medieval and unique historical buildings.lovely place to visit with children and family.also best with the groups.we(our group)also enjoyed very very long hour lovely wonderful amazing boat is the wonderful boat ride I ever had in my life.only problem we had (05/05/2019)is the bad weather.heavy rains and bad light effected to our tour.
Ines Venencie (3 months ago)
Beautiful outside, some rooms are very sparse and some very ornate, but the ceilings were beautiful. Audioguide quality was so-so and there was a contemporary art exhibition in some of the rooms which had no explanations and made things a bit gruesome because of the blood& bodily innard themes which the artist seemed focused on.
Vasilii Aleksandrov (4 months ago)
Very I’ve big museum with nice rooms with frescos, paintings and so on. The interior of some rooms is very beautiful. The price is €6.5, you can opt in for audioguide for €5. Plan at least 1.5 hours for the visit.
Miguel Martinez (4 months ago)
Nice place to visit, if you have 6,50€ extra I recoment do visiting the museum at least a port of the museum. Casually we encountered with school visit so we get free guide to the museum since the teacher was explaining the things on the museum, I wish I could understand Italian tough.
Denes Szerdahelyi (4 months ago)
Fascinating medieval buildings and unique history... However, for the €13 (plus €5 for audio guide), would have expected to see and learn WAY more. Of two sections, we saw 7 rooms, some yards and some little exhibits - done in an easy 40 minutes. The LOUVRE cost €20 including 'skip the line'. Enjoy the great character and charm of Mantova , taste the food and breads, then go to the Louvre instead.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Sirmione Castle

Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.

Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.