The Palazzo dei Priori is the most important building in the Piazza del Plebiscito, the central square of Viterbo. It was built in the 15th century and serves as the town hall. The various rooms of the building are decorated with beautiful frescoes.
Palazzo dei Priori Viterbo
Address and opening hours
The address of the Palazzo dei Priori is Piazza del Plebiscito – Viterbo (tel. +39 0761304795). Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 13:00, Saturday from 09:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 19:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 19:00. Admission is free.
History and description
Construction of the Palazzo dei Priori started in 1460 and 50 years later it was inaugurated by the Priori (a kind of municipal council). It actually consists of two pre-existing buildings connected by an arch, the Palazzo del Comune (as the Palazzo dei Priori is also known as) and the Palazzo degli Uffici (or Palazzo del Podestà).
The corridor connecting these two buildings serves as a Pinacotheque.
The central portico giving access to the courtyard of the palazzo has never been changed in the course the centuries. The upper floor, on the other hand, has undergone several renovations. The facade facing the Piazza del Plebiscito is preceded by a portico consisting of nine arches supported by columns.
The coat of arms with the oak tree and papal tiara on the loggia is the one of Sixtus IV della Rovere, Pope from 1471 to 1484. His name is also on the architrave above the first-floor windows and above the interior doors, explained by the fact that he also contributed to some renovations.
A new wing was constructed towards th end of the 17th century.
In the courtyard of the building are a number of benches of the stone type peperino. The fountain, made in 1626 to a design by Caparozzi, is characterized by two lions climbing a palm tree. Lids of Etruscan sarcophagi, recognizable by the images of semi-reclining figures, are also on display. From this garden one has a beautiful panoramic view of the Valle Faul. The right side of the courtyard has a 5 arch portico. The loggia above the entrance was built in 1632.
A wide staircase leads to the top floor.
Main rooms of the Palazzo dei Priori
The most famous room of the palace is the Sala Regia, graced by 16th century frescoes, painted by Baldassarre Croce, depicting mytholigical events and important moments and characters of Viterbo‘s history. The ceiling, painted by Tarquinio Ligustri, depicts castles and fortresses of the province.
Cappella del Magistrato
The Cappella del Magistrato is located on the right above the stairs and was created by Domenico del Fattore and Filippo Artesanta. Construction began towards the end of the 16th century. In 1631 the chapel was completed and one could admire the frescoes with “Events from the Life of the Virgin” painted by Filippo Caparozzi and Marzio Ganassino. The plasterwork and the altar were made by Spinzio.
Sala della Madonna
In the Sala della Madonna, also graced with frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin Mary and largely dedicated to the miracle of the Madonna della Quercia, one can view the carriage of the Priori.
Sala del Consiglio
The frescoes in the Sala del Consiglio are by Teodore Siciliano and have mythological themes. The coats of arms of Paolo V Borghese, Alessandro VII Chigi and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese can also be seen here.
Sala delle Bandiere
The Sala delle Bandiere (the “Hall of Flags”), which is used for wedding ceremonies, features 18th century regional landscapes painted by Giuseppe Torriani.
In the Sala Rossa, so called because of the color of the tapestries, the symbol of the Priori‘s power, a metal baton, plus a kind of shell in which ballot papers were collected, are preserved.