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Next to the Piazza delle Erbe, is the site for the magnificent Church of S. Andrea, one of the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance, dating back to 1472/94 from the architectural designs of Leon Battista Alberti (the Dome was added during the 17th Century). The façade recalls the structure of the Roman triumphal arch and internally, the structure of Basilicas of the old Roman Fort. The Church is truly majestic and in its interior, the proportions and prospectives make it seem even more profound: in the first chapel on the left, the tomb of Andrea Mantegna is preserved.

The other urbanistic pole of the City is the Sordello Square, which represented the centre of political and artistic life of the City. Facing onto this square, we can see the homes of the two most important families of old Mantova; the Bonacolsi and the Gonzaga families, as well as the Cathedral, which, because of it being of medieval origins – still preserves Gothic remains at its side and also the Roman Bell Tower – today, its external reconstruction, results as 18th Century.

The Palace of the Gonzaga family and the famous Ducal Palace, for its extent, cultural life, fasti and rich collections and furniture, made it one of the largest and famous kingdoms in Europe at the time. The main buildings from which it is composed, are from the end of the 13th Century, and to these we can add the Castle of S. Giorgio from the end of the 1300’s and the courtyards and internal gardens, constructed in various eras.
The original collection has been lost over the years, but today, you can still admire the work of Tintoretto, Rubens, Giulio Romano, the collection of arras or pieces of tapestry and of course, the ducal apartments with frescoes and ceiling which are engraved and decorated. Amongst the frescoes, we must remember those of Pisanello which represents a knightly cycle and the masterpiece of Andrea Mantegna, painted around 1474, in the representation room called Room of the Newleyweds, situated in a tower of the Castle of S. Giorgio: the fresco represents scenes from the life of the Gonzaga family, painted around a sumptuous and perfect scenographic ornament, which simulates a richness of curtains, reliefs, balconies and structures which completely transform the room.

Just outside the centre, along the Renaissance road axis, you can find the Church of S. Sebatiano, the second project for the City by Leon Battista Alberti, dating back to 1460 and characterized by sobriety, almost ascetical and the classical feel of its lines.

At the end of the Renaissance axis, almost two kilometres from the central squares, you can find the Te Palace, the country house, not to mention stables of the Gonzaga family, projected and constructed by Giulio Romano, student of Raffaello, between 1525 and ’35. We are talking here about one of the masterpieces of Italian mannerism and its apparent simplicity, which reveals to careful observers, numerous surprises: the facades are apparently all equal, but in effect are full of differences in their design and the way the elements are positioned. The simple forms of the square rooms are constantly contrasted by perspective frescoes which alter the structure: the pictorial cycles are famous and can be found in the Psyche Room, the Horse Room – with various paintings of the favourite horses of the dukes – and above all in the Giants Room, absolute masterpiece of scenographic perspective, very far away from any other memory of classical severity. Work from cultured thematics and allegorics for an extremely refined audience.

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