The Palazzo Ducale was the main residence of the Gonzaga family, lords, marquises and finally dukes of the city of Mantua. Assumed the name of the Royal Palace during the austrian domination, from the time of Maria Theresa of Austria, reigning.
Distinct environments and separated between them were built in different periods starting from XIII century, initially through the work of the family Bonacolsi, then on the pulse of the Gonzaga family.
It was duke William to instruct the prefect of the Factories Giovan Battista Bertani because it would connect the various buildings in the organic form, so as to create, starting from 1556, a single grandiose and monumental architecture, one of the largest in Europe (34,000 m2), that stretched between the shore of the Lower lake and the Piazza Sordello, Piazza di San Pietro.
Dead Bertani in 1576, the work was continued by Bernardino Facciotto that it completed the integration of the gardens, squares, loggias, galleries, exedras and courtyards, by fixing definitively the appearance of a ducal residence. The interior of the building is almost bare because once impoveritisi, the Gonzaga, had to sell works of art (especially to Charles I of England) and the furniture, part of which was later stolen by Napoleon.
The palazzo del Capitano overlooking piazza Sordello, is the oldest building of the palazzo Ducale wanted by Guido Bonacolsi at the end of the thirteenth century. Initially built on two floors and separated from the Magna Domus by an alleyway, in the early years of the 1300 was raised by a floor and joined at the same Magna Domus from the monumental facade with a porch, basically remained the same until today. The second floor has added consists of a single enormous hall (mt. 67×15) said Of the Armory, appealed also as the Hall of the Diet, as it housed the Diet of Mantua in 1459.
The Magna Domus and the palazzo del Capitano, will constitute the original nucleus that gave shape to the Old Court. In the mid-FOURTEENTH century in some of the rooms, Pisanello placed the hand of a majestic cycle of frescoes of the subject of chivalry own, having for subject the battle of Louverzep, which had the purpose to glorify the house of the client, Gianfrancesco Gonzaga, not coincidentally, he himself depicted in the painting.
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