You are in Home / Travel ideas / Art and History / Mantua, Gem of the Renaissance

Mantua, Gem of the Renaissance

Situated in Lombardy’s southeastern corner, almost touching the border with Emilia-Romagna and the VenetoMantua is one of the most beautiful jewels from the Renaissance in Italy’s territory. Mantua was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with Sabbioneta, city of art, in 2008. 

Mantua is deeply intertwined with the history of the noble Gonzaga Family who, during their reign 1328 to 1707, made the city into a Court of grand splendor. The city extends in peninsula form over three clear, reflecting lakes, created artificially as a defense for the city and designed using the curves of the River Mincio. The particularity created by the Superiore, di Mezzo and Inferiore Lakes render Mantua with the unique visual effect of springing from the water as if it were a tiny, inland Venice. 
Nighttime View of MantuaThose who prefer to find themselves amidst elegance and refinement will find great pleasure strolling the streets of Mantua’s center, which abounds in the visual harmonies left by the Renaissance

Palazzo Ducale
Among the most important sites to see include the Palazzo Ducale or Ducal Palace in the north-eastern section of the city. It holds 500 rooms, numerous buildings connected by corridors and galleries, courtyards and gardens, and resembles a sort of city-palace that extends over approximately 35,000 sq.m. (376, 737 sq. ft.). Art lovers should not go without visiting the Palace’s interior, the Hall of Pisanello, the splendid Troia apartment (which owes its name to the fresco cycle in the main room - realized by Giulio Romano and his apprentices), and the celebrated Arazzi, a collection of sketches designed by Raffaello and intended for tapestries.

Also part of the complex of the Ducal Palace is the Castello di San Giorgio, which houses frescoes by Mantegna in the Camera degli Sposi or “Newlyweds’ Room,”  dedicated to Ludovico II Gonzaga and his wife. Remaining in Piazza Sordello we find Palazzo del Capitano, today integrated into the Ducal Palace.

Palazzo della Ragione and Palazzo del Podestà
Walking beneath the characteristic porticoes we then arrive in Piazza delle Erbe, which opens onto a fantastic view of Palazzo della Ragione. During the early Middle Ages, the Palazzo functioned as the seat of public administration and justice, while the Palazzo del Podestà, built in 1227, is one of the oldest public buildings in the city. 

Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower)
Next to these Palazzi is the 14th-Century Torre dell’Orologio or Clock Tower, characterized by its Roman numeral hours and by indications of zodiac signs, solar time, lunar phases, and the positions of the stars.

Be sure to visit the Duomo, known as St. Peter’s Cathedral, which brings together several different architectonic styles, from its Romanic bell tower and its Gothic right side to its Neoclassical and 17th-Century façade. Also much-praised is the Basilica di Sant’Andrea, projected by Leon Battista Alberti; the Basilica hosts works of great import, including those of Mantegna, Correggio, Giulio Romano and his apprentices. 

Palazzo Te
The beautiful Palazzo Te, located in the eastern part of the city and immersed in green, is another must-see in Mantua. The villa is a masterpiece conceived by Giulio Romano as a place for Prince Frederick II Gonzaga and his high-society set to live out that famous phrase il dolce far niente,  or “the sweetness of doing nothing.” Of all the Palace’s rooms, be sure to pay attention to the Room of the Giants, the Room of Cupid and Psyche, and the Sala dei Cavalli or Horses Salon. 

See the Virtual Tour for Mantua

For more information visit: