Palazzo della Ragione

the portico of the inner courtyard of Palazzo della Ragione in Verona

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Palazzo della Ragione is what the courts were called in the cities administered by the Republic of Venice. Even in Verona, which remained under Venetian rule for almost four centuries, there is one, in the heart of the historic center, with a facade on Piazza delle Erbe and one on Piazza dei Signori, two of the squares that more than any other represent the history of Verona.
However, the current Palazzo della Ragione was built long before 1405, the date that marked the beginning of the long period in which Verona was part of the Serenissima's territories, and it has changed its function several times and its appearance as well, although today it maintains its archaic characteristic Romanesque structure with alternating stripes of tufa and brick.
The current Palazzo della Ragione was originally a private building erected in various stages behind the ancient Roman forum, now Piazza delle Erbe, on one of the blocks formed by the network of cardi and decumani of the Roman age Verona. The irregular square building was characterized by the presence of squat towers on each of the corners. In short, a sort of castle in the heart of the city. In the political climate of communal Verona in the dark ages, when the continuous fighting, feuds struggles, made it necessary buildings like these for protection. Examples od such kind of buildings are the so-called Romeo's house, and Juliet's house.
Even today, one of the corner towers, then raised in later times to become the tallest building in Verona, bears the name of the family that owned it: the Lamberti Tower.
Between 1193 and 1196, after the damage caused by the earthquake that almost razed the city to the ground in 1117, the Municipality of Verona took possession of the towers and buildings that stood in this area and built a more structured building to be used as a public palace. It is one of the first public palaces of Italy. Inside it found space the meetings of the city council, the warehouses of the salt, the duty of the silk, the office of the pawns, etc.
With the construction of the Loggia del Consiglio on Piazza dei Signori at the end of the fifteenth century, the building, under Venetian administration, was used as a tribunal, the Palazzo della Ragione in fact. Various fires over the centuries, in particular that of 1541, made necessary various interventions of reconstruction and restoration. The tower of Lamberti was raised to the current 84 meters, it was built the elegant staircase in the courtyard, the Scala della Ragione precisely. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the architect Giuseppe Barbieri, author of the neoclassical renewal of Verona, added a neoclassical facade on the side of piazza Erbe.

Lions' Mouth

In the walls of Palazzo della Ragione are preserved special mail boxes where informers could file secret complaints against certain types of crime directly with the court. The image shows the one against usurers. On the side of the palace there is the one against silk smugglers of which Venice had a monopoly and in the nearby Palazzo del Capitano the one against those who dealt in explosives. They were called "Bocche del Leone" (mouths of the lion) with reference to the Venetian authority whose symbol was the lion of San Marco.

The inside was also changed and remodeled several times. Some of the rooms still bear traces of the sixteenth-century interventions of the Sanmichelian school, pieces of fresco and the splendid Cappella dei Notai, a spectacular eighteenth-century jewel sumptuously decorated with frescoed vaults, fine cabinet-making and the imposing canvases by Louis Dorigny depicting the exorcisms of San Zeno. In the 19th century, as part of the general movement to recover medieval Verona, the Palazzo della Ragione was restored to its original Romanesque appearance, with its beautiful brick and tuff walls, portico and internal courtyard.
The Palazzo della Ragione continued to be the court of Verona until the early 1980s, when space and functionality issues made it move to the former Mastino barracks and the building remained in a state of complete abandonment until the early 2000s when it was decided to restore it and use it as an exhibition center. The restoration was entrusted to Tobia and Afra Scarpa, sons of Carlo Scarpa that fifty years earlier had linked his name to Verona with the masterful restoration of Castelvecchio museum. Many of his father's solutions have flowed into the restoration of the ancient Palazzo della Ragione, with the combination of modern and minimalist elements to the ancient structures of the medieval building.

. Today the Palazzo della Ragione hosts, at various times of the year, numerous exhibitions.

If you want to know more

verona modern art gallery
Modern art gallery of Verona at Palazzo della Ragione


The external visit to Palazzo della Ragione is included in most guided tours of Verona. Since 2014 in Palazzo della Ragione has found its final location the Modern Art Gallery of Verona. The tour guides of Verona are pleased to be able to accompany art lovers and history in the guided tour of the building and the exhibition.

Further information on Palazzo della Ragione and guided tours of Verona:

+39 333 2199 645 P.I. 03616420232 C.F. CPPMHL74L13L781C