Piazza Grande & Palazzo Comunale
Square in Modena
Piazza Grande, a vast public square located at the heart of Modena and overlooked by the cathedral and the Ghirlandina Tower, holds great historical significance and is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage designation. This grand square has been a focal point of both civil and ecclesiastical power for centuries.
The cathedral, with its intricately carved portal and columns, forms one side of the Piazza Grande. On another side stands the municipal building, featuring a deep 17th-century portico that provides shelter to café and restaurant tables. The ceiling of this portico is adorned with constellation paintings. The Palazzo dell’Arcivescovado, a brick building, occupies another side of the square. Within the Palazzo dell’Arcivescovado, you can find memorials dedicated to members of the Resistance who were executed in the square in 1944.
The Palazzo Comunale, also situated along the Piazza Grande and integral to the UNESCO site, holds a special place in Modena’s history as the seat of government since the 12th century. While the building has undergone replacements and modifications over time, it retains elements from various periods of construction. Notably, the oldest section is the courtyard in the eastern wing, accessed from Via Scudari, showcasing its medieval origins with wooden beams and a marble handrail.
Visitors have the opportunity to explore the historic rooms of the Palazzo Comunale. Among the highlights are the Sala del Fuoco, featuring a 16th-century cycle of paintings by Niccolò dell’Abate, and the Sala degli Arazzi (Room of the Tapestries), adorned with 18th-century wall paintings by Girolamo Vannulli designed to resemble the tapestries that were fashionable in France during that era.
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