Palazzo Te was built between 1524 and 1534, by the will of Francesco Gonzaga. Today, the entire complex is home to the civic museum , and since 1990, a place where important exhibitions of ancient, modern and architectural art are held. Its particular name is the result of the abbreviation of ” Tejeto “, the third of three islands, which were located near Mantua in the fifteenth century, and the site chosen for the construction of the palace. Here is some information on how to get there, prices and advice for visiting Palazzo Te in Mantua.
Timetables and prices
- Timetables: Monday from 13:00 to 18:30, Tuesday to Sunday from 09:00 to 18:30, when solar time is in effect. Monday from 1.00 pm to 7.30 pm, Tuesday to Sunday from 9.00 am to 7.30 pm, when daylight saving time is in effect. The ticket office closes one hour before the museums
- Best time to avoid queues : generally not very crowded
- Ticket cost: €12,00
- Reduced : € 4.00 for visitors between 12 and 18 years, university students – € 8.00 for over 65s, groups of minimum 20 maximum 30 people, TCI, FAI, ACI members, citizens residing in the Municipality of Mantua.
- Free : children up to 11 years, 1 companion per group, teachers per school group, journalists. Every Monday after the first Sunday of the month, free admission valid for all.
What to see and how to visit Palazzo Te
Palazzo Te is characterized by the unusual proportions of its square shape: it is wide and low, with the height that develops in a single floor, and is about a quarter of the length. The large central courtyard has four entrances, the most important of which are: the one to the north-west, the entrance opening is a square vestibule, with four columns that divide it into three naves; to the south-east is the main entrance, the so-called Loggia Grande, on the outside made up of three large arches on coupled columns.
It seems that even the façade of the building was “colored” in the past, and that everything has faded due to time. On the other hand, the frescoes that adorn the eleven rooms of the palace remain intact and beautiful, enriched with gilded and silvered curtains and leather applications, inlaid wood doors, bronzes and fireplaces built with the help of precious marbles. Here is a small excursus of the most important rooms, useful for the visit:
- Hall of the Giants : it is completely covered by the fresco representing the fall of the Giants, painted between 1532 and 1535. The work represents the giants intent on trying to climb Mount Olympus.
- Sala dei Cavalli : room dedicated to dance parties, it is characterized by the presence of six life-size portraits, depicting as many horses, the favorites of the Gonzagas. In this room, too, ample space is given to Greek mythology, with figures of divinities emerging from inside the niches. The symbol of the duke is taken up within the design of the floor.
- Hall of Cupid and Psyche : it was the duke’s dining room, and is entirely frescoed with scenes from the story of the two lovers. To complete the atmosphere, various divine loves depicted above the fireplace, and episodes from the story of Venus and Mars on two other walls. This room was the symbol of the Duke’s love for Isabella Boschetti .
- Sala delle Aquile : it was Frederick’s bedroom, with the fresco of Phaeton’s fall from the chariot of the sun, and dark stuccoes of eagles with spread wings in the lunettes at the corners of the room, accompanied by frescoes of pagan fables.
- Room of the Sun and the Moon : referred to as the “living room” in official documents, the room served as a corridor to the more reserved rooms of the Enterprises and Ovid. The central fresco, which depicts the chariots of the Sun and the Moon, gives the room its name.
- Hall of bas-reliefs and Sala dei Cesari : these are rooms in honor of the emperor Charles V, from whom Frederick obtained the title of duke in 1530.
- Loggia d’onore : it is the loggia that overlooks the fishmongers, parallel to the “Grande” one, which marks the entrance to the building and shows the garden. The vault is divided into large squares in which the biblical story of David is represented.
The secret corner
Built in 1530, the cave apartment is located in the east corner of the garden. Composed of a few modestly sized rooms, all compared to those of the Palazzo, it is characterized by a loggia which, opening onto a small garden, shows how much of the old frescoes are left. From the garden it is then possible to access the cave, an area used as a bathroom, recreated to give the idea of a natural environment. There are neither marbles nor refined materials, and the interiors were covered with shells that have now disappeared. Everything was organized in such a way as to recreate a real cave.
Fruit bowls of Palazzo Te
Located on the southern side of the garden, the Fruttiere consist of a single room divided into three naves. The building, completed around 1655, was used to house plants during the winter but, from the following century, it was turned into a military warehouse. Improper uses continued until 1989, when it became an exhibition venue for the exhibitions held by the International Center of Art and Culture in Palazzo Te.
Given the numerous vicissitudes that Palazzo Te has had to overcome over the centuries, several restorations were necessary, which gave it its current shape. This was joined by the aim, on the part of the city institutions, to obtain from the Palazzo a museum that would house, even if in part, the civic collections: the permanent exhibition space was created in the rooms on the upper floor. Access to the museum is included in the cost of the ticket and, at the moment, it is possible to admire four permanent collections:
- Gonzaga section : materials related to the history of Mantua of the Gonzaga period, which include a Numismatic Collection consisting of 595 coins and a collection of 62 Gonzaga medals and illustrious Mantuan personalities.
- Donation “Arnoldo Mondadori” : consisting of several paintings collected over time by Arnoldo Mondadori, and donated to the museum in 1974 by his heirs.
- Egyptian collection “Giuseppe Acerbi” : the consul general of Austria Giuseppe Cerbi participated in an expedition to Egypt in 1829, which allowed him to collect various archaeological materials that he donated to the city in 1840
- Mesopotamian Collection “Ugo Sissa” : made up of 250 pieces of Mesopotamian art, datable to the end of the 6th millennium BC and the end of the 1st millennium AD
Where is it and how to get there
- On foot : the historic center of Mantua is 13 minutes from Palazzo Te, for a total of 1 km. The road ahead is in a straight line, and is lined with interesting attractions, such as the Mantegna house and the Prefecture. Except for special needs, this type of route is recommended, so that you can also enjoy a glimpse of “lived Mantua”
- By bus : connection between the city center and Palazzo Te served by the CC line, Circolare in Città
- By car : Palazzo Te is on the outskirts of the city in the stadium area and can be reached in about 5 minutes from the center. Possibility to park the car in the square adjacent to the stadium. From here, on Thursdays (from 7.00 to 13.00), Saturdays and Sundays (from 9.00 to 21.00), it is possible to use a free shuttle that takes you to the city center. The runs are every 15 minutes. An additional free parking is available in front of Palazzo Te.
- By train : Mantova stop, piazzale Don E.Leoni. The station is a pleasant 900 meters walk from the city center. Alternatively, it is possible to use the urban buses Line CC (Circular in the City) or those directed to Palazzo Te
Useful tips for visiting the attraction
- Buy the city card : with the Mantova Sabbioneta Card, at a cost of € 20.00, you can access many museums and historic buildings.
- Facilitated access : The halls of the Palace are also accessible to people with blind, low vision, perceptive and motor disabilities that make navigation difficult or impossible
- Beware of restrictions : it is forbidden to consume food and introduce animals
- Minimum time : we recommend that you consider a minimum of 1.5 hours for the visit. The ideal would be to be able to dedicate at least two and a half hours
Historical notes, curiosities and practical info: what to know in brief
Visiting Palazzo Te you will not be able to help but notice some graffiti and engravings present, especially in the room of the Giants. The structure was defaced during the Spanish, French and Austrian occupations, which meant that the palace was used as a barracks and the gardens as camps for the troops. It was in 1886 that the Italian State bought the Palazzo from the Austrians , and then passed to the Municipality of Mantua in 1866. Since that time, several restorations have been carried out, in order to restore the structure to its ancient splendor, defaced by soldiers over the centuries. .
A curiosity concerns the symbolism used in almost all the frescoes that cover the rooms. The Salamander, for example, it often recurs within the works accompanied by the inscription: quod huic deest me torquet ( what he lacks torments me). The animal was considered insensitive to the stimuli of love and, the duke, chose it as his personal symbol and conceptual contrast because he was tormented by love and vices.