From the Estense Court to the Military Academy
The Ducal Palace of Modena was originally the seat of the Estense Court. After the Unification of Italy, it became the seat of the Military Academy of Modena. It was built from 1634 on the site of an ancient Estense castle, which was connected to a navigable canal.
It is said that the supervision of the project was entrusted to Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In 1805, Napoleon and Josephine Bonaparte stayed here after the coronation, taking away a large number of works of art. During World War II, the palace was requisitioned by the German army.
Since the post-war period, the palace has housed the Military Sacrarium and the Historical Museum of the Academy. Admire the façade with the Estensi eagles and the statues of Hercules and Cerberus and the consul Marco Emilio Lepido, founder of Modena, which decorate the door from which one can access the splendid Courtyard of Honour. From the left, you can enter the Staircase of Honour that leads to the upper floor to visit the historic rooms.
Look at the ceiling of the Gran Sala, which was frescoed in 1695 by Marcantonio Franceschini. It covers 440 square metres and depicts mythological subjects. Do not miss the Salottino d’Oro [Golden Salon] where Duke Francesco III worked. The wooden panels are lined with gold leaf.