An ancient university campus and modern-day home of art and science
This building was the first historical campus of the Alma Mater Studiorum, one of the oldest universities in the western world. It was specifically requested by Pope Pius IV to restore prestige to Bologna’s universities and unite them under one roof. Archiginnasio was built in record time by the architect Antonio Morandi and still retains its typical appearance, with a long 30-arch portico spanning two floors surrounding a central courtyard. It was in this symbolic and historical place that teriaca, a miraculous herbal medicine, was once prepared.
Today, the building houses the Archiginnasio Municipal Library, which is home to an incredible set of archives containing ancient historical, philosophical, political, and literary texts, in addition to an in-depth section dedicated to Bolognese culture. If you look closely, you will see that the walls and ceilings are decorated with the coats of arms of students’ families. The most interesting section of the building is the Anatomical Theater, which is made of fir wood and was once used to teach anatomy lessons. In fact, the marble table used to perform autopsies still stands in the center of the theater. This room is in the shape of an amphitheater and is surrounded by statues of famous doctors and anatomists. It has a paneled ceiling decorated with symbolic figures representing the fourteen constellations. In the center, you will spot Apollo, the god of medicine.