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Here the beauty of the past blends with today's creative language, culture, productivity and expertise.
It is this unique blend between old and new that expresses and defines Mantua's history and at the same time carries the city forward to meet the outside world and embrace the future.

The Prince's route

The itinerary unwinds along a straight line that crosses the city from North to South, linking the two extremes: the Ducal Palace and Palazzo Te. Piazza Sordello, the oldest part of the city, underwent constant modification until the Gonzagas, who began their rule in 1328, began to extend and shape the piazza to create a setting that would ideally represent the power of their government.
In addition to the vast Ducal Palace is the Gothic cathedral, later rebuilt by Giulio Romano in 1545, there the Bishop's Palace, built by the marchesi Bianchi between 1776 and 1876, Palazzo Bonacolsi, dating back to 1281, palazzo Castiglioni and the early 14th century Torre della Gabbia (tower of the cage), which is 55 metres high.
Passing under the arch of San Pietro, built in the 16th century by Giovan Battista Bertani in the medieval style, we come to piazza Broletto, surrounded by the most important buildings of the period of the communes: the Arengario, the Palazzo del Massaro and Palazzo del Podestà of 1227. On the side of the building is a 13th century statue of Virgil enthroned.

Piazza delle Erbe

Continuing past the Palazzo del Podestà, we reach piazza delle Erbe, so called because of the fruit and vegetable market held there since the Middle Ages.
Overlooking the piazza is the 13th century Palazzo della Ragione where justice was administered, the Torre dell'Orologio , so called because of the clock made in 1472 by astronomer Bartolomeo Manfredi and built from a design by Luca Fancelli, the Romanesque Rotonda di San Lorenzo, the oldest church in the town, and the Casa del Mercante of 1455, with its Byzantine and Gothic terracotta ornamentation, reminiscent of the architecture of Venice.
After piazza delle Erbe, we come to piazza Mantegna and the majestic basilica of Sant'Andrea. They was once a Benedictine monastery (the only parts of which are the Gothic campanile and one side of the cloister). Alterations designed by Leon Battista Alberti began in 1472. According to tradition the Sacred Vases containing, the blood of Christ are kept in the crypt.

Proceeding towards palazzo Te, we come to piazza Marconi, a triangular space bordered by Renaissance porticoes. Above the portico on the right as we come from Sant'Andrea, we can admire the frescoes attributed to Andrea Mantegna and his school on the façade of casa Viani Tallarico.
At the end of via Roma is the Rio, an artificial canal created by Alberto Pitentino, overlooking which is the Pescherie by Giulio Romano. Built in 1536 for the sale of fish, the double arcade has rounded ashlar-work arches and windows in the upper part.
The walk continues along via Principe Amedeo and into via Acerbi, where we encounter Casa del Mantegna, probably built from a design by Mantegna himself. There is also the Tempio di San Sebastiano, erected in around 1460 by Leon Battista Alberti. In 1925 it became a monument to the Fallen.

A little further on, in Largo XXIV Maggio, is Palazzo San Sebastiano (now home to the Museo della Città), which was the last of the Gonzaga town palaces, built between 1506 and 1508. We are now at the southernmost point of the city as it was during the time of the Gonzagas. A canal, later filled in, ran along what is now Viale della Repubblica and Viale Risorgimento. Further to the south was the Paiolo lake, reclaimed at the end of the 18th century, in the centre of which, on the island of the Tejeto, stood Palazzo Te, the suburban villa built and decorated by Giulio Romano between 1525 and 1535.

The Holy route

Following the fall of the Roman Empire Mantua, wich was then known for its role as the birthplace of Virgil, experienced a gradual decline. It declined, to become a modest village situated along the Mincio river with apartments among the marshy forests. Then in the year 804 an event occurred that was to change its history. On the site where the impressive basilica of Sant'Andrea now stands was found what was held to be a part of the blood that Christ shed on the Cross. The relic attracted the interest of both the emperor and the pope, and before long the village had become a diocese and shortly afterwards a county. Gradually it gained religious, political, economic and cultural relevance; in short, Mantua became a city.
With similar origins and with its exceptional civic buildings , it is hardly surprising that the city should have witnessed the creation of several uniquely distinctive churches, designed, built or decorated by artists such as Andrea Mantegna, Leon Battista Alberti, Correggio, Giulio Romano, Paolo Veronese, Tintoretto, Ludovico Carracci, Peter Paul Rubens, Filippo Juvara and numerous others. At its height the city had around a hundred religious buildings, many of which were of outstanding beauty. Although the tragic events of the second half of the 18th century destroyed much of this heritage, a great deal still remains, making Mantua one of the major destinations for those in search of sacred art in Italy.
The Municipality of Mantua has published a guide book entitled "I segni del Sacro – Percorsi d'arte storia e fede", which indicates all the sacred works of art in the town, including those little known. It also contains a series of itineraries, to offer the visitor the best opportunities to enjoy Mantua's artistic and architectural heritage.

Copyright by Comune di Mantova

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