Ducal Palace

Mantua, Italy

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


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

aydin akay (10 months ago)
Well kept and organized museum. However, many exhibits were either missing information or having it only in italian. If you buy the ticket from counter, pay attention to entry time. Although it wasn’t told, the validity of the ticket is for particular entry times. Overall worth seeing.
Andrea Nori (10 months ago)
Honestly, I expected more from this palace, as a lot of people I know have always raved about it. The first part of the building is empty, with some dark paintings, therefore very ugly. The second part, however, is really very beautiful. About Camera degli Sposi, I thought it was more beautiful sincerely, but it's still nice to see it btw. However, what I didn't like at all is that you have to leave your umbrellas/things at the entrance, you have to put your backpack in front of you (literally no sense) and they are absolutely faithful to the time of entry. Too many people giving themselves importance in this museum...To then recover the things left at the entrance, you must exit completely and re-enter from where you entered. If it rains you literally get wet. Absolutely an awful management
Nakarin P. (14 months ago)
Beautiful inside but plenty of close areas due to processing the renovations.
Tyubo 1050 (14 months ago)
Great surprise in Montova which Is by no means the best known city of Italy, but this palace felt more as it was at the time than other more re-designed places. And if your kids know their Greek mythology (Illiad and Odyssey) this is like a giant comic strip. Don’t let the kids miss the horses painted on the roof. They change direction when the looker moves! Much more spectacular than Mona Lisa looking your way at the Louvre in Paris!
Roberto Chiaveri (20 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.
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