Italy Palazzo d'Accursio

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Sue Wolfe

About this spot
On the western side of the Piazza Maggiore is the Palazzo d’Accursio (a/k/a Palazzo Comunale). The palace dates back to the 13th century and was the residence of the well-known lawyer Accursius. Since 1336, it has housed the city’s Town Hall.

In the 15th century it was renovated, and it was at this time the Clock Tower (Torre dell’Orologio) was added.

Two days before Charles V was crowned emperor in the Basilica of San Petronio, he was crowned King of Italy in the chapel of Palazzo D’Accursio. A special passageway linking the palace to the basilica was built especially for the occasion.

Above the portal is a bronze statue of Pope Gregory XIII—the Bolognese pope who reformed the old Roman calendar, replacing it with the Gregorian calendar—the one we use today.

To the left of the main entrance is a terracotta statue of the “Virgin and Child” by Niccolò dell’Arca.

In 1920, the palace was the site of the Massacre of Palazzo d’Accursio. On November 21, fascist action squads fired on the crowd gathered for the inauguration ceremony of the new municipal council. The attack left 10 dead and 58 wounded.

The elaborately frescoed ceremonial halls of the palace now house the Collezioni Comunali d’Art displaying works of art from the 13th to 19th centuries. The collection not only features paintings and sculptures but also furniture and accessories from the 19th and 20th centuries.

The “Staircase of the Horses” is an entrance to the noble floor of the palace. Constructed by Donato Bramante in 1587, it was designed to allow horses to pull a carriage up to the governor’s apartments. While you may take the elevator up, be sure to find the horse staircase on your way down.

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