Mantua Tourist Attractions

Mantua, ItalyMantua, Italy


The provincial capital Mantua, former residence of the Gonzaga family, lies south of Lake Garda in the Po plain on the lower course of the Mincino, which here forms a marshy lake divided into three parts: Lago Superiore, Lago di Mezzo and Lago Inferiore.


In Piazza Mantegna, in the center of Mantua, stands the church of Sant'Andrea, a masterpiece of Early Renaissance architecture built by Leon Battista Alberti in 1472-94, with a transept and choir of 1600, and a dome of 1782. The white marble facade, in the style of a classical temple, has beside it the earlier Gothic tower of red brick (1413). The interior, with its massive barrel vault, is of imposing effect. In the first chapel on the left is the tomb of Mantegna, with a bronze bust; in the last chapel on the right are frescoes by Giulio Romano. From Piazza Mantegna the arcaded Corso Umberto I, the town's principal shopping and business street, leads west to Piazza Cavallotti, from which the Corso della Libertà, a wide street built over an old canal, runs to Piazza Martiri di Belfiori.
Address: Piazza Mantegna, I-46100 Mantova, Italy

Palazzo della Ragione

Adjoining Piazza Mantegna on the east in the Piazza delle Erbe, are the Torre dell'Orologio (clock-tower), the Palazzo della Ragione (13th century, with much later alteration) and the little Romanesque church of San Lorenzo (11th century) on a circular plan.

Piazza Sordello

In the medieval Piazza Sordello (at one time the political and artistic center of Mantua), are two crenellated Gothic palaces, the Palazzo Guervieri (12th-13th century), with the 55 m/182ft high Torre della Gabbia, and the 13th century Palazzo Bonacolsi or Palazzo Castiglioni.

Bishops Palace

Adjoining the Piazza Sordello in Mantua is the Baroque Bishop's Palace (18th century).

Cathedral of San Pietro

On the northeast side of Piazza Sordello in Mantua stands the Cathedral of San Pietro, originally built in Romanesque style as the burial church of the marquises of Canossa and the Gonzaga family, remodeled in Gothic style between 1393 and 1401 and reconstructed internally to the design of Giulio Romano after a fire in 1545; it has fine Baroque facade (1756). Behind the church stands a Romanesque campanile.
Address: Piazza Sordello, I-46100 Mantova, Italy

Ducal Palace

Opposite the cathedral in Mantua the massive Palazzo Ducale, the sumptuous residence of the Gonzagas and one of the most splendid palaces in Italy, now houses a number of important museums and collections - the Municipal Collection of Antiquities (Greek and Roman sculpture); the Museo Medievale e Moderno (mainly medieval and Renaissance sculpture); and the Galleria, a valuable collection of pictures displayed in a series of rooms richly decorated with frescoes and ceiling paintings. Outstanding among these rooms are the Appartamento degli Arazzi, with nine tapestries made in Brussels about 1528 (scenes from the life of SS Peter and Paul) after cartoons by Raphael; the Gallery of Mirrors; the Appartamento del Paradiso, from which there are beautiful views of the lakes. On the ground floor are the rooms occupied by Isabella d'Este, the Gabinetti Isabelliani, with richly sculptured ceilings.
Address: Piazza Sordello, I-46100 Mantova, Italy

Castello San Giorgio

At the northeast corner of the Palazzo Ducale in Mantua stands the palace church, Santa Barbara, in High Renaissance style (1565) and the older castle, the massive Castello San Giorgio (1395-1406). On the first floor the Camera degli Sposi contains magnificent frescoes by Mantegna (1474), depicting the brilliant life of the court of Lodovico and his wife Barbara of Hohenzollern. On the ceiling are fine trompe-l'oeil paintings.

Monument to Virgil

Northwest of Piazza Sordello in Mantua is the Piazza Virgiliana, with a monument (1927) to the poet Virgil, who was born near Mantua, in Andes (now Pietole).

Hall of Justice

In the south of Mantua, at Via Carlo Poma 11, is the Palazzo di Giustizia (16th century), with colossal hermae (heads of the god Hermes) on the facade.
Address: Via Carlo Poma 11, I-46100 Mantova, Italy

San Sebastiano

South of the Palazzo di Giustizia in Mantua the church of San Sebastiano was the first Renaissance church built on a Greek cross plan (1460-1529) as a votive church for Ludovic II.

Palazzo del Te

South of San Sebastiano is the single-story Palazzo del Te, built 1525-35 by Giulio Romano as a country house for the Gonzagas and decorated with frescoes and stucco work under his direction. The interior rooms are worthy of note: they include the Sala dei Cavalli, the walls of which are decorated with paintings of royal horses, the Sala di Psiche with representations of Amor and Psyche, and the Sala di Giganti.
Address: Viale Te, I-46100 Mantova, Italy

Palazzo d'Arco

The Palazzo d'Arco in Mantua has an interesting collection of 18th century furniture, paintings and ceramics.
Address: Piazza d'Arco, I-46100 Mantova, Italy

Teatro Accademico

Teatro Accademico is a small 18th century theater located in Mantua. It was designed by Bibiena and contains a unique decoration of imitation marble and pasteboard.
Address: Via dell'Accademia 47, I-46100 Mantova, Italy


Santa Maria degli Angeli

On the Cremona road (3km/2 mi west of Mantua), lying off the road on the right, on the Lago Superiore, the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (1429) is in Lombard Gothic style, with a beautiful altarpiece by Mantegna.

Santa Maria delle Grazie

Near the west end of the Lago Superiore, stands the Gothic pilgrimage church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (1399). The over-furnished interior contains 44 figures in wood and wax of notable visitors to the shrine (including Charles V) and a fine altarpiece ("St Sebastian") by F. Bonsignori.

Abbazia di Polirone, San Benedetto Po, Italy

There is a rewarding trip to the little town of San Benedetto Po (18m/59ft; pop. 8,000), with a former Benedictine monastery (Abbazia di Polirone) founded in 1007 by Marquis Tedaldo of Canossa and dissolved in 1789. The church, originally built in Gothic style was remodeled by Giulio Romano as a splendid Renaissance building with an octagonal dome over the crossing and a fine portico; in front of the presbytery are floor mosaics (12th century). The internal furnishings are mainly 16th century. Note the terracotta figures by Antonio Begarelli in the nave and choir. In the monastery buildings grouped around the cloisters are remains of some Renaissance frescoes. Some rooms of the monastery house the Museo della Cultura Popolare Padana, with 10,000 items on display documenting the life and work of the people of Mantua and the neighboring provinces of Modena and Reggio nell'Emilia. The exhibits include puppet theaters, evidence of the spiritual and religious life, as well as objects portraying the everyday lives of the farmers and craftsmen.

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