In the 13th century, the municipality of Bologna had a several houses and churches demolished to make way for the Piazza Maggiore. This square was to become the city’s administrative and commercial centre. The Palazzo di Re Enzo was one of the palaces built for this purpose. The king for whom the palace is named was imprisoned here for 23 years. It also served as a warehouse for military tools.
Palazzo Re Enzo Bologna
Address: Piazza del Nettuno, 1/c – 40125 Bologna (BO). The palace can be visited only on special occasions. Public transport: Bus 29, A (Piazza Maggiore); bus T (Piazza Roosevelt).
History and description
The Palazzo Re Enzo was built between 1244 and 1246, at the same time as the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo. At the time, it was referred to as Palazzo Nuovo (“New Palace”) to distinguish it from the Palazzo del Podestà, which had been built earlier. Three years later, it became the “residence” of King Enzo of Sardinia captured at the Battle of Fossalta. The king, about whom many legends circulated, was to be imprisoned there until his death 23 years later.
On the ground floor of the palace, the army’s war equipment was stored. The so-called Carroccio, a large carriage around which the army lined up during battles and had an important symbolic function, was also kept here.
Town meetings were held under a portico on the first floor.
The so-called Sala del Trecento, designed by Antonio di Vincenzo, was later turned into a municipal archive.
The top floor was completely renovated by G. G. Dotti in 1771.
A new restoration took place in 1905, aiming to restore the original Gothic appearance of the palace. This renovation was carried out under the direction of Alfonso Rubbiani. The battlements, the arches on the ground floor and the staircase were restored to their original state.
To the right of the Palazzo Re Enzo is the entrance to the Santa Maria dei Carcerati Chapel, where death row inmates retreated to pray.