The history of Mantova
Mantova, a natural fortress of the Po Valley, stretches over a peninsula between the Upper, Mid and Lower Lakes, formed by the River Mincio, a tributary of the Po. The city, which was founded by the prophet Manto according to legend, in reality has origins in the ancient Etruscan “Mantua” situated on the north-eastern border of the current built-up area.
After the barbarian invasion of the 10th century, it became the dominion of the Canossa, then, in the mid-12th century, gained a communal organisation and thanks to a great hydraulics working of the drainage system and the digging of the Rio the city was expanded towards the south. In 1272 with the rise to power of Pinamonte Bonacolsi, it passed from a municipality to a seigniory until 1328 when the Gonzaga era began which lasted for almost four centuries, during which the city became one of Italy’s most important centres of art.

The Gonzaga, marquis from 1433, dukes from 1530 created in Mantova a sumptuous court able to accommodate the greatest artists of the era, such as Pisanello, Leon Battista Alberti, Giulio Romano, Mantegna.

A war of succession, looting by Lanzichenecchi mercenaries (1630) and plague brought about the end of the Gonzaga dominion of Mantova taking it quickly towards decline and Austrian dominion (1707). During this domination, Mantova was transformed into a quadrilateral fortress-city until 1866.

Mantova was also the home town of Publio Virgilio Marone, who was born in Andes, at the steps of Mantova, on 15 October 70 BC., moving in order to continue his studies first in Rome and then in Naples. Virgilio never forgot the pain caused by the loss of his land, for which he always felt nostalgic.
The sites within the heart
Doge's Palace
34 thousand square metres of history: the Doge’s Palace was the official residence of the Gonzaga.
Inside, you can admire the works of Pisanello, Giulio Romano, Rubens.
By following the various frescoed halls you can see the splendour of the Court of the Gonzaga. Click here for further information.
Te Palace
The Te Palace is the masterpiece of Giulio Romano: a truly unique and particular structure. The name is derived from the ancient site of Tejeto where it was built; designed and decorated by Giulio Romano for Frederik II Gonzaga. Click here for further information.
The Basilica of Sant’Andrea
The Basilica of Sant’Andrea is the largest church of the city, right in the centre of Mantova (designed by Leon Battista Alberti). Click here for further information.
The Castle of San Giorgio
An integral part of the Doge’s Palace, the Castle of San Giorgio houses numerous frescoes of Mantenga.
The main area of interest is the famous Hall of Grooms or Camera Picta, painted by Mantenga in honour of Ludovico and Barbara di Brandeburgo (1465).