Since July 2008 Mantua, together with the near town of Sabbioneta, was inscribed in the World Heritage List due to the presence of exceptional Renaissance artworks and remnants, and not just that.
Mantua is a city you have to visit on foot or by bike using its several cycling lanes along the lower lakeside and from which you can imagine the beauty of this place, conquered in 1328 by the Gonzaga family, who transformed it into one of the most refined cities in the Renaissance.
You can find the traces of Mantua’s magnificent history in the buildings of its historic centre, which is a marvellous open-air museum. It’s not easy to select what to see in Mantua.
The first place to see in Mantua is certainly Piazza Sordello (Sordello Square) which represents the heart of the Renaissance Mantua. The Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace), the 18th century Palazzo Bianchi (or Palazzo Vescovile – Bishop’s Palace), Palazzo Bonacolsi (also known as Palazzo Castiglioni) and the Duomo (the Cathedral) overlook the square.
A few steps away from Piazza Sordello there’s Piazza Mantegna (Mantegna Square) where the majestic Basilica di Sant’Andrea (Basilica of Sant’Andrea) stands.
Planned by Leon Battista Alberti, was built starting from 1472, and contains the relic of “the Most Precious Blood of Christ” brought to Mantua by the Roman centurion Longinus, whose funerary monument is here and was created by Andrea Mantegna.
Not far away from Piazza Sordello, lies the Teatro del Bibiena (Bibiena Theatre), made by Antonio Bibiena on commission from Maria Theresa of Habsburg.
It’s a real Baroque masterwork inaugurated in 1769 with a concert played by 14-years-old Mozart, and it tells the story of Mantua after the fall of the Gonzaga family, when the city lost its power but not its splendour.
Lastly the Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) was the residence of the Gonzaga family until the 17th century, and is one of the largest palaces in Europe, made up of courtyards, magnificently decorated rooms, numerous buildings connected by corridors and galleries, and is enriched by gardens. The Palazzo Ducale is linked to the Castello di San Giorgio (Castle of Saint George), built in the late 14th century, which contains the Camera degli Sposi (Bridal Chambers), Andrea Mantegna’s masterpiece.
Guest Post by Caterina Stringhetta
Caterina lives near Venice and she is a curious tourist, fond of art cities, a tireless visitor to exhibitions, and an insatiable explorer of museums. She has a degree in art history, but she’s more interested in stories which art talks about. The Art post Blog is her blog, born in 2013 to share her passion for art.
READ ALSO THE ART POST BLOG: Free museums in Mantua, a cheap visit to the city of the Gonzaga family