Palazzo Della Mercanzia (Merchandise Palace)
Palace in Bologna
The Palazzo della Mercanzia, constructed in 1382, showcases the remarkable Gothic architectural style and was crafted by architects Lorenzo da Bagnomarino and Antonio di Vincenzo. Throughout its history, various designers added decorative elements like hanging arches, sculptures, pillars, and spiral columns, each representing distinct design schools.
Initially, the palace served as the Universitas Mercatorum, or Forum of the Merchants, from the 14th century until 1797. Subsequently, it became the official seat of the Chamber of Commerce, a role it continues to fulfil today.
Upon entering the palace, visitors will encounter portraits of the Chamber of Commerce presidents displayed on the second floor. Additionally, there is a public library adorned with Renaissance-style frescoes, silk fabric-clad walls, a splendid Murano chandelier, and a charming small courtyard.
One captivating aspect of the Palazzo della Mercanzia is its preservation of Bolognese recipes within its library. These original recipes date back to the origins of beloved regional dishes such as Bolognese sauce and Bolognese green lasagna, providing a glimpse into the culinary heritage of the area.
The focal point of the palace’s façade features a petite marble balcony crowned with a graceful steeple. According to local tradition, the “Lucardina” bell would ring to announce the reading of verdicts from the merchant’s court. Notably, individuals found guilty of bankruptcy would be publicly humiliated by being chained to a stake in front of the central pillar of the loggia, serving as a spectacle of shame.
It is currently the seat of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture and Crafts, Palazzo della Mercanzia has been regulating Bologna’s commercial and trading activities since the late 14th century.
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