Even if the Palace of the Gonzaga is famous in all the world, it is necessary, for a better understanding of its intricate story to have a short description of the historical-artistic events and of the alterations during its 700 years of life.

The actual size is:34.000 mē,
of which:14.000 mē are covered.
15 are the internal gardens, courts, yards and squares.
500 are are the halls, rooms, passages and corridors.

Chronology:

1299-1309

The Domus Magna is built under Guido Buonacolsi, Captain of the town. It is the beginning of the construction of the building-complex that nowadays is called "Palazzo Ducale"..

1309-1328

Rinaldo Buonacolsi is killed by a conspiracy led by members of the family Gonzaga.

1328-1360

Luigi Gonzaga assumes power, starting the domination of his powerful family, giving a start to one of the most important dynasties in Italian history

1360-1369

Guido calls the first painters to work at court

1370-1382

Ludovico I°, fortifies the city and erects walls to protect the court.

1383-1407

Francesco I° commissions the building of the "Castello di S. Giorgio" (1395-1406).

1407-1444

Gianfrancesco, first Marquis of Mantua commissions S. Croce Church (altered later it was even used as a ball-room; now it does not survive); he also calls to court Pisanello, who creates the wall painting (discovered only in 1972) telling the story of King Arthur and his knights, reflecting indirectly the personal story of the dynasty of the Gonzaga.

1444-1478

Ludovico II° moves the Court and his living rooms into the Castle where he commissions Mantegna to paint the "Camera degli sposi".

1478-1484

Federico I° charges the architect Fancelli to build the Domus Nova.

1484-1519

Francesco II° commissions the construction of "Palazzo di San Sebastiano", adjusting also some rooms in the Castle. His wife Isabella d'Este (1774-1539), after his death moves her "camerini Isabelliani" downstairs to the Old Court, and there we still admire her "Studiolo" and the "Grotta".

1519-1540

Federico II° fifth marquis and since 1530 first Duke of Mantua, commissions in the New Court the "Appartamento di Troia" and charges the architect Giulio Romano for the building of the "Palazzina della Paleologa" (demolished by the end of the 19th C.) and the "Rustica". Giulio Romano to build also in Mantua the famous "Palazzo Te" (1525-1535). 

1540-1550

Francesco III°, under the regency of his uncle, Cardinal Ercole and Bishop of the town, commissions Giulio Romano for the reconstruction of the Cathedral.

1550-1587

by the patronage of Guglielmo I°:  Santa Barbara Church; "Appartamento Grande" by the "Castello S. Giorgio" with the famous "Sala di Manto"; the "Galleria dei Marmi"(or of the months) obtained by alterations of the Loggia by G. Romano; readapts the "Appartamento Verde" (now known as the Room of the Tapestries); modernizes the rooms of the Old Court.

1587-1612

Vincenzo I° realizes the "Appartamento Ducale", and is famous as an art collector of pictures of his family. He welcomes at Court the poet Torquato Tasso. 

His descendants have made no important alterations of the Ducal Palace.

1612-1612

Francesco IV°

1613-1626

Ferdinando commissions paintings by the local artist Fetti.

1627-1627

Vincenzo II° starts to consider a big sale of the family paintings collection. 

1628-1637

Carlo I° sells all the family paintings collection.

1637-1665

buys new works and paintings.

1665-1707

Ferdinando Carlo, disposes of the remaining collections, deprived of the imperial vicar title goes into exile, bringing an end to the control by the Gonzaga of the town of Mantua. The Austrian Empire takes over the town and the Palace.

1707-1797

Under the Empress Maria Teresa the rooms of the Old court are modernized. Later more works are undertaken to adjust to the modern taste: by the architect Bibiena the elegant Kaffehaus is built, by Anselm the "Sala dei Fiumi" is decorated (1773-1775), by Felice Campi the "Galleria degli Specchi".

1798-1814

In the Napoleonic period the Zodiac room is transformed and the "Appartamento dell'Imperatrice d'Austria" and the one of "Maria Luisa" are joined, becoming the "Appartamento delle Imperatrici". 

1815-1866

Second Austrian domination where still works are due, according to the present needs.

1866-1900

During the period of the Italian Kingdom, very few are the works in the palace, but the "Palazzina della Paleologa" is demolished

1900-1902

Re-creation of the actual facade of the Palace, overlooking "Piazza Sordello. The shapes are taken from the painting by Domenico Morone (1494) now displayed in the Palace.

1972

The big painting-frescos of Pisanello come back to light.

2000

many rooms will be restored and possibly reopen to the public like the "Sala della Musica" the "Kaffehaus" and others. 

2001

News  ...

A special invitation to the readers of these pages:
come to see "life" in the Palace, its rooms, its gardens, squares and all the works kept inside it (like the "camera Picta" by Mantegna, the tapestries of Raphael, the painting of Rubens…..).
Words and pictures are not enough for paying homage to what in the 16th C was considered the most famous, beautiful and large Court of Europe.

The  official site:  www.mantovaducale.it and www.mantovaducale.org

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Authorization N°6823/IIC del 04-10-1999 e 6390/IIc/IIPD del 06-09-2001

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