The ancient meeting place of linen merchants
Colourful buildings, elegant palaces and a 15th-century arcade. Situated south-west of Piazza della Vittoria along Corso Palestro, Brescia's Piazza del Mercato was built in the Middle Ages, following the demolition of the city walls in the 12th century, as a place for the exchange of cloth and linen. At the end of the 15th century, the characteristic low arched porticoes were built, while in the second half of the 16th century, the municipality commissioned architect Ludovico Beretta to design a palace with noble features intended as a luxury residence for merchants.
In 1608, Pier Maria Bagnadore built the small, quadrangular church of S. Maria del Lino with a domed roof around a fresco considered miraculous. The building was recently restored and reopened to the public. In 1675, the square was completed by the baroque-style Palazzo Martinengo Palatini, now the seat of the Rectorate of Brescia University, whose façade is embellished with statues of Minerva and Marte.
In the 18th century, the arcades were paved and a large fountain was placed in the centre, sculpted to a design by Giovanni Donegani and completed by a statue of Abundance by Giovanni Antonio Labus, which can still be seen today. Partly damaged during the World War II, today the square is a venue for cultural initiatives and craft markets.