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Piazza Ducale

piazza_ducale1.jpgBuilt between 1492 and 1494 at the wishes of Ludovico il Moro, Piazza Ducale was one of the first models of a Renaissance square and is one of the best examples of XV century Lombard architecture. Work on building the square began in 1492 and lasted two years. In October 1494 the new square was there to welcome the visit of Charles VIII. Donato Bramante was undoubtedly present among those architects involved in the work at the Milan nobles’ court.
The Piazza was built to add lustre to the town as the preferred residence of the Duke. The antechamber to the entrance of the imposing Visconti-Sforza castle, it originally had a flight of stone steps permitting the triumphal entrance of the Dukes to the Castle residence.



Original Apperance

In Ludovico il Moro’s time the Piazza looked quite different from now: two triumphal arches formed a gap in the porticoes at the point where via del Popolo and via Silva are now found; the Castle was entered via a long stone ramp which could be crossed on horseback and by carriage. Situated in the centre of the Piazza, the ramp was in line with the current entrance beneath the Tower; of the baroque facade of the Cathedral there was no sign at all.


duomo_jose_mod.jpgCurrent Appearance

The current architectonical shape was designed and built by the bishop-architect Juan Caramuel Lobkowitz who, in 1680, erected the baroque facade of the Cathedral, thus enclosing the fourth side of the square, and had the ramp to the castle entrance and its two triumphal arches removed. From that day onwards until the Napoleonic era the square was called "Piazza del Duomo". The Piazza is enclosed by arched porticos supported by 84 columns each of which has a different carved capital. Above every column is a roundel depicting figures from the Roman age and from the Rennaisance along with some mottos and proverbs.

The Piazza’s current pictorial decoration, which underwent restoration work during the nineties, is for the most part the work of Vigevano painters Casimiro Ottone and Luigi Bocca. Working in 1903, they based their paintings on the remaining traces and fragments of the fourteenth century pictorial decorations. The Piazza is paved with black and white cobblestones taken from the Ticino river, while the first of the cast iron lampposts were erected in 1911.
An interesting feature is the different shaped chimneys adorning the rooftops.

piazza_ducale_notturno.jpgPiazza Ducale nowadays

Piazza Ducale is the ancient and modern heart of the city, Vigevano’s “dining room”, a highly suggestive and harmonious scenographic area. The great master Arturo Toscanini, despite his ill health, asked to be taken to Vigevano to sit at the tables of the bars around the square, as he considered Piazza Ducale to be a musical symphony, a four-sided orchestral composition akin to the four movements of symphonies.
Piazza Ducale is still the main entrance to the Castle today. In fact by climbing the staircase, which is beneath the Bramante Tower, you gain access to the Castle courtyard and can visit the spaces which have already been restored or climb up the Bramante Tower for a panoramic view of the city as a whole.

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published on 2018/12/12 09:52:00 GMT+0 last modified 2019-03-06T13:28:54+00:00