Palazzo dei Banchi (Banchi Palace)
Palace in Bologna
Palazzo dei Banchi is a magnificent Renaissance-style palace located on the eastern side of Piazza Maggiore in the heart of Bologna.
During the 16th century, when the current façade was built, Piazza Maggiore served as the main public square of Bologna, surrounded by significant religious and political institutions such as the Basilica of San Petronio, the Palazzo Re Enzo (Pretorian Palace), and the Palazzo d’Accursio (City Hall). Prior to the 16th century, this area was a chaotic mix of houses and shops. In 1412, a portico was added to cover the front of the square, giving rise to small alleys like Via Pescherie Vecchie, Via Clavature, and Via degli Orefici, each bustling with its own businesses. Underneath the porticoes, adjacent to the square, bankers and merchants set up their stalls (banchi) to conduct their trade. Prominent families like Malvasia, Duglioli, and Amorini, who were aristocratic and senatorial, owned shops in this area.
Between 1565 and 1568, the city council and merchants, desiring an aesthetically pleasing architectural element for this location, commissioned the renowned architect Vignola to design the present structure. The façade is asymmetrical and features 15 rounded arches, two of which are larger and lead to the aforementioned alleys, while the others are smaller. Monumental Corinthian pilasters flank each arch. Each floor of the palace follows a distinctive Mannerist pattern in window placement, creating the illusion of a unified gallery within a single palace.
The palace is connected to the Archiginnasio of Bologna, one of the main buildings of the University of Bologna, through a portico known as Pavaglione. The term “Pavaglione” derives from the French word “pavillon,” meaning “pavilion,” in reference to a silk fair that took place here in 1449.
Behind the palace, an open-air market featuring local products is held on certain days. The palace itself is a blend of commercial spaces and residential apartments. Additionally, the city’s archaeology museum and the Church of Santa Maria della Vita are located in the vicinity of the palace.
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Visiting Palazzo dei Banchi (Banchi Palace)
interior is closed to the public