Ducal Palace of Urbino and Galleria Nazionale delle Marche
The Ducal Palace of Urbino is a monumental Renaissance building and a museum in the Marche region, central Italy.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998, the building is the seat of Galleria Nazionale delle Marche art gallery, encompassing 80 exhibition rooms located on the first and second floors of the palace.
The Ducal Palace
Under the rule of Federico da Montefeltro, from 1474 to 1482, Urbino was one of the most important centers of Italian Renaissance. Such glorious heritage is still visible across the fascinating and well-preserved urban structure of Urbino, with the Ducal Palace (a city in form of a palace, as Renaissance author Baldassare Castiglione defined it) sited at its center.
The Ducal Palace was constructed in various stages during the 15th century. Based on an older nucleus – built by Ludovico’s father, count Guidantonio da Montefeltro – the palace we see today was designed by architect Luciano Laurana, who conceived a four-story building encircling a central courtyard. Laurana also designed the palace’s turreted facade and the famous studiolo (private study) of Federico.
Since the 1540s, the architectural project was carried out by architect and engineer Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who completed the structure and invented a new, innovative type of plumbing for the palace.
In 1919, the Ducal Palace was transformed into a public museum aimed to accommodate the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche (National Gallery of the Marche).
Ducal Palace of Urbino, view from the west; photo: Cristina Carriere
Galleria Nazionale delle Marche – collection and works on view
Comprising paintings, sculptures, drawings, coins, and pieces of furniture dating from the 13th to the 18th century, the collection of the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche is a sort of compendium of Italian Renaissance art.
In the Duke’s apartment – along with the wooden studiolo of Federico, and magnificent inlaid wood panels by Giuliano and Benedetto da Maiano, and Baccio Pontelli – also the enigmatic Flagellation of Christ and the Madonna di Senigallia by Piero della Francesca, and the portraits of Federico da Montefeltro and his son Guidobaldo by Pedro Berruguete are on view.
The Sala degli Angeli (Angels’ Room) features the Ideal City, an iconic painted representation of the perfect Renaissance urban fabric, the Communion of the Apostles by Justus van Gent, and the Miracle of the Desecrated Host by Paolo Uccello; while in the Throne Hall, a series of 17th century tapestries after Raphael is on display.
The galleries located on the Piano Nobile contain a number of 16th-century paintings, including masterpieces such as the Portrait of a Young Woman (also known as La Muta) by Raphael, the Resurrection and the Last Supper by Titian.
The Ideal City, unknown author (formerly attributed to Piero della Francesca, Leon Battista Alberti, and others), ca.1480-1490, oil on panel
The Ducal Palace of Urbino also includes a restaurant-cafe, and a book and gift shop.
Urbino, panoramic view of the Cathedral (center) and the Ducal Palace (right); photo: Stephen Lustig
The famous turreted facade of the Ducal Palace of Urbino; photo: Francesco-Gasparetti
Ducal Palace of Urbino, main courtyard; photo: David Nicholls
View of the “Sala degli Arazzi” (Hall of the Tapestries, also known as Throne Hall); photo: renagrisa
Detail of one of the inlaid wood panels by Benedetto da Maiano which decorate the “studiolo” of Federico da Montefeltro
Piero della Francesca, Madonna di Senigallia, the 1480s, oil and tempera on panel
Cover image: view of the Ducal Palace of Urbino from the west; photo: Federico