Lunedi Voyages: Ducal Palace in Mantua Italy

5/03/2010 12:09:00 AM ·

The Ducal Palace complex of buildings spans over 366,000 square feet and has 500 rooms. The Ducal Palace and Mantua is most famous for its association with the Gonzaga family, who ruled the area from 1328 to 1707.

Ceiling of Camera degli Sposi

The oldest buildings in the complex are the Palazzo de Capitano and the Magna Domus, built by the Bonacolsi Family, rulers of Mantua from 1271 until 1328. They were, however, ousted by a revolt backed by the Gonzaga family.

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San Georgio Castle


At the end of the 14th century, Bartolina de Navaro erected the San Giorgio Castle as part of the Ducal Palace complex. The complex of buildings is filled with artworks, facades, sculptures, frescoes, and gardens, commissioned by the Gonzaga family during their reign. One particular artist named Andrea Mantegna crafted a lovely bridal chamber showcasing portraits of the Gonzaga family in several different scenes and situations. Artists such as Guilio Romano, Luca Fancelli, and Antonio Pisano also contributed to the splendor of the palace over the years.


In 1627, the Gonzaga era came to an end with Vincenzo II. Vincent II had sold most of the artworks in the complex to Charles I of England. The French line of the Gonzaga, the Gonzaga Nevers, came to power, however by 1630 the complex was besieged by the Hapsburg army who looted the palace.


In 1707, Ferdinand Carlo was finally deposed and fled to Mantua for Venice, taking more than 1000 paintings and centuries of history with him.

Today, the palace is a museum and art gallery.

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