Palazzo Re Enzo

Palace in Bologna

Palazzo Re Enzo Bologna
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Vanni Lazzari

Palazzo Re Enzo, situated on Piazza del Nettuno in the historic centre of Bologna, stands as a remarkable palace with a fascinating history. It derives its name from Enzio of Sardinia, the son of Frederick II, who was held captive within its walls from 1249 until his passing in 1272. It is also called ‘ Palazzo Nuovo ‘ to distinguish it from the Palazzo del Podestà.

Constructed between 1244 and 1246, the palace served as an extension of the nearby Palazzo del Podestà, which proved inadequate for the needs of the Commune of Bologna. Initially referred to as Palatium Novum, meaning “New Palace,” it took on its current name in honor of Enzio.

Following his capture by the Guelphs during the Battle of Fossalta, Enzio was transported here after a brief period in Anzola. Throughout his captivity, he was allegedly granted freedom within the palace during the day but confined to a cage suspended from the ceiling at night. It is said that he had the opportunity to meet women, as evidenced by his will, which mentions three natural daughters. Legend has it that he also had a fourth son named Bentivoglio, conceived with a peasant named Lucia di Viadagola. The name “Bentivoglio” originated from Enzio’s words to his beloved, meaning “My love, I’m fond of you.” This son would go on to become the ancestor of the Bentivoglio family, who would later rule over Bologna.

In 1386, Antonio di Vincenzo completed the Sala dei Trecento, also known as the “Hall of the Three-Hundred,” which would serve as the city’s archive. The upper floor underwent extensive renovations in 1771 under the guidance of Giovanni Giacomo Dotti. The current Gothic appearance of the palace is the result of a restoration carried out in 1905 by Alfonso Rubbiani.

Adjacent to the palace’s right side is the entrance to the chapel of Santa Maria dei Carcerati, where the condemned prisoners would go. The first floor housed the Carroccio and war machines, while the middle floor contained the praetor’s offices and the chapel.

Today, the palace serves as a venue for cultural events and exhibitions, showcasing its rich heritage and contributing to the vibrant cultural scene of Bologna.

The Palazzo Re Enzo appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Bologna!

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Visiting Palazzo Re Enzo

Address: Palazzo Re Enzo, Piazza del Nettuno, Bologna, Metropolitan City of Bologna, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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