Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Palazzo Ducale Mantua



Finally I have got around to visiting the Palazzo Ducale di Mantova. I have been to Mantova many times but I have never had the time necessary to visit this vast complex.

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Mantova was the centre of power of the Gonzaga family who ruled a vast area around this city including Sabbioneta  the “Perfect City”  built from scratch by one of the family.

 
Castello san Giorgio, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Castello san Giorgio, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Castello san Giorgio, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

After a bloody coup d’├ętat in 1328 against the previous rulers; this family ruled this area of Italy until 1707.
Their palace covers over 34,000 square metres. Unfortunately only a relatively small part can be visited.

The Gonzaga family  like many of the rulers of Italy’s city states in this period were warriors who ruled with an iron fist and were capable of acts of great cruelty. For example the surviving members of the previous ruling family were chained up in a cell in the castle and left to die of starvation. At the same time they were well read and cultured patrons of the arts as the decoration of their palaces testifies. Quite schizophrenic.

The court of Ludovico Gonzaga.Camera degli Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Camera dei Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova
 I started my tour in the castle with the “Camera degli Sposi”  a wonderful frescoed room by Mantenga  dating from the mid fifteenth century.

Camera dei Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Camera dei Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Camera dei Sposi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova
I was lucky that I visited on a slow day with relatively few visitors because they usually let you stay five minutes in this room in the high tourist season. I was able to stay quite some time .

The next part of my visit was to the actual palace. Like the castle, some of the rooms are still closed after the earthquake that we suffered some time ago.

The route one takes in the palace  starts off with a couple of rooms with fresco fragments and preparatory fresco drawings dating from the fifteenth century before one enters with a sense of surprise the huge Salone degli Arcieri.

Sala Pisanello, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova
 
Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

One of the side rooms one find  the neo classic Sala dei Specchi which for me was one of the highlights of the visit. 

Sala dei Specchi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Sala dei Specchi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Sala dei Specchi, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

One then passes through a series of small rooms including the Stanza del Labirinto with its fantastic labyrinth ceiling.

Salone degli Arcieri, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Stanza del Labirinto,Palazzo Ducale, Mantova
Visiting the palace is a series of surprises  including the Camera dello Zodiaco  with its astrological ceiling that dates from 1579.
Camera dello Zodiaco, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Camera dello Zodiaco, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Camera dello Zodiaco, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Camera dello Zodiaco, Palazzo Ducale, Mantova
The last of the large rooms that I saw was the Sala dei Fiumi with its frescoes representing the rivers around Mantova. It also has a couple of Grottoes, one at each end. The decorations one sees here date from 1775.

Sala dei Fiumi,Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Sala dei Fiumi,Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Sala dei Fiumi,Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Sala dei Fiumi,Palazzo Ducale, Mantova
 
Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova


I must admit that I expected a bit more from this palace after seeing Sabbioneta and fantastic Palazzo Te also in Mantova. But it was well worth the visit all the same.

Mantova

Mantova



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