The Palazzo dei Priori is the most important building in the Piazza del Plebiscito, the central square of Viterbo. It was built in the 15th century and serves as the town hall. The various rooms of the building are decorated with beautiful frescoes.
Palazzo dei Priori Viterbo
Address and opening hours
The address of the Palazzo dei Priori is Piazza del Plebiscito – Viterbo (tel. +39 0761304795). Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 13:00, Saturday from 09:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 19:oo and Sunday from 10:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 19:00. Admission is free.
History and description
Construction of the Palazzo dei Priori started in 1460 and 50 years later it was inaugurated by the Priori (a kind of municipal council). It actually consists of two pre-existing buildings connected by an arch, the Palazzo del Comune (or Palazzo dei Priori) and the Palazzo degli Uffici (or Palazzo del Podestà).
The corridor connecting these two buildings serves as a Pinacotheque.
The portico givnign acces to the palazzo has never changed in the course the centuries. The upper floor, on the other hand, has undergone several changes during this time. It consists of nine arches supported by columns.
The coat of arms with the oak tree with the papal tiara on the loggia is that of Sixtus IV, whose name can also be read on the architrave above the first-floor windows and above the interior doors, partly explained by the fact that he also contributed to some renovations.
In the garden of the building are a number of benches made of the stone type peperino. The fountain, made in 1626 to a design by Caparozzi, is characterized by two lions climbing on a palm tree, while here and there are lids of Etruscan sarcophagi, recognizable by the images of semi-reclining figures. From this garden one has a view of the Valle Faul.
A wide staircase leads to the top floor.
Main rooms of the Palazzo dei Priori
The most famous room of the palace is the Sala Regia, graced by 16th century frescoes, painted by Baldassarre Croce, depicting mytholigical events and important moments and characters of Viterbo‘s history. The ceiling, painted by Tarquinio Ligustri, depicts castles and fortresses of the province.
The Cappella del Magistrato is located on the right above the stairs and was created by Domenico del Fattore and Filippo Artesanta, who began construction towards the end of the 16th century. In 1631 the chapel was completed and one could admire the frescoes with “Events from the Life of the Virgin” painted by Filippo Caparozzi and Marzio Ganassino. The plasterwork and the altar were made by Spinzio.
In the Sala della Madonna, also graced with frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin Mary and largely dedicated to the miracle of the Madonna della Quercia, one can view the carriage of the Priori.
The frescoes in the Sala del Consiglio are by Teodore Siciliano and have mythological themes. The coats of arms of Paolo V Borghese, Alessandro VII Chigi and Cardinal Alessandro Farnese can also be seen here.
The Sala delle Bandiere (the “Hall of Flags”), where marriages are performed, features 18th century landscapes of the region painted by Giuseppe Torriani.
In the Sala Rossa, so called because of the color of the tapestries, one keeps the symbol of the Priori‘s power, a metal baton, and a kind of shell in which ballot papers were collected.