The story of the Palazzo goes back in time, probably dating back to the time of Matilde of Tuscany. During the thirteenth century, it was recorded as part of the Della Rosa kingdom until the Este conquest of 1373. It was the Marquis (and later Duke) of Ferrara himself, Borso d’Este, who initiated the works to convert the Palazzo from a fortified manor into a court residence which included the frescoes by Agnolo and Bartolomeo degli Erri, now lost. For the whole of the sixteenth century the building was in the possession of the Pio di Carpi family with work carried out by artists such as Nicolò dell’Abate (in the lost Appartamento di Orlando) and Domenico Carnevali (whose frescoes in the Camera della Cancelleria only survive in fragments). The castle eventually returned once again into the Este’s possession and became a strategic seat for Francesco I d’Este’s new approach to politics. After the House of Este moved its capital from Ferrara to Modena, Francesco I converted the residence in Sassuolo into a Baroque palace whilst simultaneously transforming the Este castle in Modena into the colossal urban Palazzo Ducale. Under the team of artists gathered by the Duke, the Palazzo’s environment was transformed and re-orientated towards natural light and views of the foothills: the corner towers were made into panoramic terraces; the courtyard became a theatrical space populated with a gigantic river god designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Antonio Raggi; and an arcade of three staggered archways gave the illusion of symmetry on the building’s new Baroque façade, opening it up towards the town. Bartolomeo Avanzini and scenographer Gaspare Vigarani designed bizarre creations such as the fish pond (the “Fontanazzo” adjacent to the piazza) whilst sculptors and plasterers such as Lattanzio Maschio, Luca Colombi and Giovanni Lazzoni worked to produce sculptures for the atrium, Scalone d’Onore and Appartamento Stuccato.
- The Galleria Estense
- Museo Lapidario Estense
- Biblioteca Estense Universitaria di Modena
- The Pinacoteca Nazionale
- Palazzo Ducale