25 November, 2018 / By Nejma Bk / 84 views

Mantua, frescoes heaven


Mantua (Mantova) was founded by Etruscans. Later occupied by Gauls and Romans, it was sacked by Lombards and became an earldom under Charles the Great.

Mantua is deeply intertwined with the Gonzaga Family. During their reign from 1328 to 1707, they transformed the city into a Court of grand splendor.

Did you know that Virgil was born here?

Palazzo Te

Federico Gonzaga, first duke of Mantua and son of the very illustrious marquess, Isabella d'Este, wanted a place of pleasures and leisure for his lover Isabella Boschetti. It was built between 1525 and 1534 on a project by Giulio Romano who also took care of the interior decorations and frescoes.

I would not do justice to these magnificient works of art writing about them so please check the official website for more info. Also not all rooms were open when I went there and I lost photos as well.

Chamber of Tiziano (Titian)


Chamber of Ovid - Camera di Ovidio (Metamorfosi)

Camera delle Impresse

Chamber of the Devices

Devices are hieraldic emblems.

Camera del Sole e della Luna

Chamber of the Sun and the Moon

Loggia delle Muse

Loggia of the Muses

Sala dei Cavalli

Hall of the Horses

Camera di Amore e Psiche

Chamber of Cupid and Psyche

The Sala di Amore e Psiche, frescoed with the intent to describe the love between the Duke Vincenzo and Isabella Boschetti, was used as a banquet hall.

Camera dei Venti

Chamber of the Winds

Camera delle Aquile

Chamber of the Eagles

Loggia of David

Camera dei Stucchi

Chamber of the Stuccoes

Camera dei Imperatori

Chamber of the Emperors

Sala dei Giganti

Chamber of the Giants

The spectacular Hall of the Giants recreates the episode of the attempt by Giants and Titants to chase the gods from Mount Olympus.

Complesso museale di Palazzo Ducale

The Palazzo Ducale di Mantova is one of the largest and most complex Italian architectural complexes, in which a state museum has been established since the beginning of the 20th century. It is also one of the biggest museum complexes in Europe, along with the Vatican museums. With 500 rooms, numerous buildings connected by corridors and galleries, courtyards and gardens, it resembles a sort of city-palace.

Residence of the Gonzaga family, which permanently resides within it between 1328 and 1707, the palace developed over the four centuries of their dominion over Mantua and the territory.

Castello di San Giorgio

The castle of San Giorgio was built in 1395 by the Gonzaga family for defensive purpose as well as display of economic and political power. The castle, very similar to the one in Ferrara, was transformed from a defensive construction to a residence in 1459 by architect Luca Fancelli and enriched with important frescoes including the very famous "Camera Picta" or Camera degli Sposi.

To see the great masterpiece of Mantegna, you need to pre-book your visit.

The fresco describes the reigning family group together with part of the court. The artist managed to transform a narrow square room into a loggia open to infinite spaces.

The other rooms house the precious Freddi Collection composed of paintings, artefacts and tears of frescoes from Mantua purchased from the biggest world auction houses by the entrepreneur.

Studiolo d'Isabella d'Este

Isabella d'Este's apartment consisted of two small rooms on the main floor of the castle of San Giorgio. The "studiolo" is located in the tower of San Niccolò and the "cave" is below the study. It was accessed via a ladder. Isabella gathered her collections in this appartment decorated with frescoes based on mythological and allegorical themes. There are also some beautiful pannels in wood. Unfortunately I lost the photos.

Palazzo Ducale

La sala di Manto

Manto is a mythological person who, according to Virgil, was the mother of the legendary founder of Mantua.

This beautiful room was completely frescoed in the middle of the 16th century and recently restored.

Sala degli Arcieri (Hall of the Archers)

The Gonzaga Family in Adoration of the Holy Trinity was painted by Rubens. It is depicting the family of Vincenzo I Gonzaga, who commissioned the canvas in 1604 for the church of the Holy Trinity.

The Gonzaga Family in Adoration of the Holy Trinity

Galleria degli Specchi (Gallery of Mirrors)

Galleria del Passerino (Gallery of the Sparrow)

Sala dello zodiaco

This room has a ceiling frescoed in blue and shows constellations of the northern hemisphere.


Sala di Troia

New Gallery

Museo archeologico

The museum is modern, pleasant to visit and mostly known for its display of the Amanti di Valdaro. The Lovers of Valdaro might not be lovers at all but their double burial dated from the Neolithic period is the only one found in Italy so far.

Fun fact: they were nicknamed like this not only because of their position but also because they were discovered around Saint-Valentine.

Casa Museo Palazzo Valenti Gonzaga

This amazing building houses a hotel and a museum. There are some beautiful frescoes inside.

Casa della beata Osanna Andreasi

This house is a rare example of a 15 century house that has remained almost intact over the centuries.

Casa di Rigoletto

Housing the Tourism Information Centre, this cute little building is best known for its sculpture of Rigoletto, from the Verdi's opera.

Loggia/Pescherie di Giulio Romano

Main churches


Basilica di Sant’Andrea

The basilica houses some spectacular trompe l'oeil frescoes.

Around the city

Chiesa di San Simione
Torre dell Orologio
Chiesa di Santa Maria del Gradaro
Gino Baratta Cultural Centre

Italy, a UNESCO heaven