Bologna Palaces (Self Guided), Bologna

Bologna is famous for a huge number of ancient buildings and unique historic sites, closely associated with a huge number of mysteries and legends. There are numerous incredibly beautiful palaces in the city, richly adorned with art by great masters, intricately decorated interiors and luxurious old furniture. Each palace is fit to leave an unforgettable impression upon visitors, firmly imprinted in their memory with a feel of an elusive spirit of the times.

Among them mandatory to visit, perhaps, is Palazzo del Podestà, a historic landmark erected circa 1200 as the seat of local government.

Also notable are:

Palazzo Re Enzo – built between 1244 and 1246 as an extension of the nearby Palazzo del Podestà; takes its name from King Enzio of Sardinia, Frederick II's son, who was a prisoner here.

Palazzo d'Accursio – formerly a Town Hall of Bologna; now home to the Civic Art Collection.

Palazzo dei Notai – built in 1287 by the city's notaries guild as their seat, redesigned in 1381.

Palazzo dei Banchi – a 16th century Renaissance-style palace, presently occupied by businesses offices and private apartments.

Palazzo Della Mercanzia – a Gothic palace built in 1382; inside there is a library storing original recipes of some of the classic regional cuisine, such as Bolognese sauce and green lasagna.

Palazzo Bolognini – a piece of Renaissance architecture erected between 1517–25; still owned by descendant of the 16th-century Senatorial family.

Palazzo Fantuzzi – a monumental Renaissance-style palace designed in 1517; known for its sculpted exterior decoration and beautiful ceilings inside.

To visit and learn more about these magnificent palaces of Bologna, take our self-guided walking tour and enjoy!
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Bologna Palaces Map

Guide Name: Bologna Palaces
Guide Location: Italy » Bologna (See other walking tours in Bologna)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.4 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Palazzo del Podesta (Podesta Palace)
  • Palazzo Re Enzo (King Enzo Palace)
  • Palazzo d'Accursio (Accursio Palace)
  • Palazzo dei Notai (Notary Palace)
  • Palazzo dei Banchi (Banchi Palace)
  • Palazzo Della Mercanzia (Merchandise Palace)
  • Palazzo Bolognini (Bolognini Palace)
  • Palazzo Fantuzzi (Fantuzzi Palace)
1
Palazzo del Podesta (Podesta Palace)

1) Palazzo del Podesta (Podesta Palace)

The Palazzo del Podesta, or Podesta Palace, is a historical landmark that is well known to fans of history and architecture. The building was erected in 1200 as the first seat of government for the city of Bologna. It was quickly discovered that the building was too small for this purpose, which led to the construction of the Palazzo Re Enzo.

In 1453 a rebuilt was carried out to replace the bell and reconstructed the original Gothic façade in the Renaissance style. Today this historical palace continues to impress. Particularly meaningful is the Voltone del Podesta, which has acoustics that allow individuals to hear one another speaking at a whisper from opposite sides of the vault.

Architecture lovers should check out the pillars of the portico. They are carved with 3,000 unique rosettes. They should also pay special attention to the Campanazzo, a bell that was brought to the bell tower in 1453.

The palace is on the Piazza Maggiore near the Palazzo Comunale. The palace is home to the tourism office of Bologna as well as a number of cultural and artistic displays. Visitors can tour the Palazzo del Podesta during special events. They can enter the tourism office on Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 7 pm and on Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm.
2
Palazzo Re Enzo (King Enzo Palace)

2) Palazzo Re Enzo (King Enzo Palace)

Palazzo Re Enzo is a palace located on Piazza del Nettuno in the historic center of Bologna. The palace takes its name from Enzio of Sardinia, Frederick II's son, who was prisoner here from 1249 until his death in 1272.

The palace was built between 1244 and 1246 as an extension of the nearby Palazzo del Podestà, which had proven insufficient for the exigences of the Commune of Bologna. It was therefore initially known as Palatium Novum ("New Palace").

Three years after the palace completion, Enzio was captured by the Guelphs at the Battle of Fossalta, and after a short stay in Anzola he was moved here, where he remained until his death. Enzio was allegedly left free within the palace by day, but by night he was kept into a cage hanging from the ceiling. He was also allowed to meet women: in his will he mentions three natural daughters, but a legend talks about a fourth son he had from a peasant, Lucia di Viadagola. The son was called Bentivoglio, from the words "Amore mio, ben ti voglio" that he said to his beloved (meaning "My love, I'm fond of you"), and he would be the ancestor of the Bentivoglio family, later rulers of Bologna.

In 1386 Antonio di Vincenzo finished the Sala dei Trecento ("Hall of the Three-Hundred"), which was to become the city's archive. The last floor was largely renovated in 1771 by Giovanni Giacomo Dotti. The current Gothic appearance dates from the restoration of 1905 due to Alfonso Rubbiani.

On the right of the palace is the access to the chapel of Santa Maria dei Carcerati, where the condemned to death went to. In the first floor was held the Carroccio and the war machines, while in the middle floor were the offices of the praetor and the chapel.

The palace is presently used to sponsor cultural events and exhibitions.
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Palazzo d'Accursio (Accursio Palace)

3) Palazzo d'Accursio (Accursio Palace)

Palazzo d'Accursio (or Palazzo Comunale) is a palace in Bologna. It is located on the Piazza Maggiore and had been the city's Town Hall until 11 November 2008. Palazzo d'Accursio is home to the Civic Art Collection, with paintings from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. It also houses the Museo Morandi, with the works by Giorgio Morandi donated to the comune by his family. In 1336 it became the seat of the Anziani ("Elder"), the highest magistrates of the commune, and then seat of the government. In the 15th century it was restored by Fioravante Fioravanti, who added, among the other feature, the Clock Tower (Torre d'Accursio).

The façade features a portcullis and a Madonna with Child, a terracotta by Niccolò dell'Arca in the upper section. Over the portal is a large bronze statue of the Bolognese Pope Gregory XIII (1580). A bronze statue of Pope Boniface VIII is now in Medieval Museum. The Hall of the Communal Council, on the first floor, is where the Bolognese Senators met, and contains a frescoed gallery ceiling by Angelo Michele Colonna and Gioacchino Pizzoli (1675–1677). The Farnese Hall, on the second floor, was rebuilt in 1665 by Cardinal Girolamo Farnese. It has fresco decoration by pupils of Francesco Albani.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Palazzo dei Notai (Notary Palace)

4) Palazzo dei Notai (Notary Palace)

The Palazzo dei Notai was built in 1287 with many restorations over the years. The original design was created by Antonio di Vicenzo. It was redesigned in 1381 by Berto Cavalletto and Lorenzo da Bagnomarino.

In 1437, Bartolomeo Fioravanti designed a new section of the building, but then fell into ruins. It was restored and redesigned once again in 1908 under the guidance of Alfonso Rubbiani who recreated its once medieval appearance.

The building was the site of the notary order, which is noted by the three inkwells on the court of arms. Most visitors to the Palazzo dei Notai will only see the exterior as the building remains closed most of the time. However, those who peek through the windows will see some of the 15th-century frescoes still in place.

The Palazzo dei Notai is only open during special events, but visitors to Bologna should still make sure to stop and admire the beauty of the building.
5
Palazzo dei Banchi (Banchi Palace)

5) Palazzo dei Banchi (Banchi Palace)

Palazzo dei Banchi is a Renaissance-style palace façade located on the eastern flank of the Piazza Maggiore in the center of Bologna.

In the 16th century when the present façade was constructed, and perhaps still, Piazza Maggiore was the main public plaza of Bologna, surrounded by the centers of religious and political governance, represented by the cathedral (Basilica of San Petronio) and the palaces of Re Enzo (Pretorian palace) and D'Accursio (city hall). Prior to the 16th century, this end of the Piazza was represented by a jumble of house and store-fronts. In 1412, the Piazza front was roofed with a portico. Amid the houses emerged small alleys: Via Pescherie Vecchie, Via Clavature, and Via degli Orefici, each with their own concentration of businesses. Underneath the porticos adjacent to the Piazza, bankers and merchants from the adjacent shops (botteghe) set up banchi to conduct their business. In the 15th and 16th centuries, among the families owning botteghe were the aristocratic and senatorial Malvasia, Duglioli, and Amorini families.

In 1565-1568, the commune and merchants wishing to create a pleasing architectural component to this site, commissioned from the architect Vignola, the present design. The asymmetric façade has 15 rounded arches, two of which are larger and lead to the alleys mentioned above, while the others are lower. All are flanked by monumental Corinthian pilasters. Each floor has its own Mannerist rhythm of window placement, unifying the complex into what appears to be a single gallery of one palace.

The palace is connected by a portico, known as a Pavaglione, to the Archiginnasio of Bologna, one of the main buildings of the University of Bologna. The term derives from the French pavillon, meaning "pavilion", in reference to a fair of silkworms held here in 1449.

As of 2015, behind the palace on some days is an open-air market of local products. The palace itself is occupied by a combination of businesses and apartments. Also located behind the palace structure is the city's archeology museum and the church of Santa Maria della Vita.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Palazzo Della Mercanzia (Merchandise Palace)

6) Palazzo Della Mercanzia (Merchandise Palace)

The Palazzo della Mercanzia was built in 1382. It was designed by architects Lorenzo da Bagnomarino and Antonio di Vincenzo in the Gothic architectural style. The decorative, hanging arches and sculptures were added by a variety of designers who exemplified different schools of design. Tourists will see sculptures, hanging arches, pillars and spiral columns.

The palace was the Universitas Mercatorum, or Forum of the Merchants, from the 14th century through 1797. At that time, it was named as the seat of the Chamber of Commerce. It remains the house of the Chamber of Commerce to this day.

Those who enter the palace will see paintings of the presidents of the Chamber of Commerce on the second floor. They will also find a library, which is open to the public. They will find Renaissance-style frescoes, walls adorned with silk fabric, a Murano chandelier and a small courtyard.

A unique feature of the Palazzo della Mercanzia is the Bolognese recipes it preserved in its library. The original recipes of some of the classic regional cuisine such as Bolognese sauce and Bolognese green lasagna can be traced to the records stored in this building.
7
Palazzo Bolognini (Bolognini Palace)

7) Palazzo Bolognini (Bolognini Palace)

The Palazzo Bolognini Amorini Salina is a Renaissance architecture palace located on Piazza Santo Stefano in the center of Bologna. The Palace is notable by its circular niches with busts on the facade. The palace is still owned by descendant of the 16th-century Senatorial family.

The building was erected between 1517–25 with work continuing from 1551–1602. The design was by Andrea da Formigine. Formigine and Properzia de' Rossi sculpted the capitols in the portico. Palace construction ceased by 1602 for lack of funds, and work on the palace was not restarted till the 19th-century, and not completed until the 1884 under the engineer Lamberdini.

The standout feature of the palace is the facade has a series of capricci busts made of terra-cotta in the spandrels and below the roofline. The artist who worked on the facade is the well known 19-century Italian sculptor Giulio Cesare Conventi.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Palazzo Fantuzzi (Fantuzzi Palace)

8) Palazzo Fantuzzi (Fantuzzi Palace)

The Palazzo Fantuzzi is a monumental Renaissance style palace located in the center of Bologna. The palace is known for its sculpted exterior decoration and beautiful ceilings inside the building.

The palace was designed in 1517 by Andrea da Formigine. The facade with the ashlar columns was commissioned in 1521 by Francesco Fantuzzi. The carved elephants with towers above the corner niches refer to the senatorial family's coat of arms.

The ceilings of the building were decorated by some of the most prominent artists and designers in the 17th century in Bologna. Angelo Michele Colonna, whose work include the Royal Palace of Madrid and the Palace of Versailles, was among the artists who worked on this building.
Sight description based on wikipedia

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