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The Gran Guardia Palace and Piazza Bra in Verona

The Gran Guardia Palace and Piazza Bra in Verona

The Palace and the square in the heart of the city of Verona

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In the heart of Verona, just steps away from the Arena, beyond the nineteenth-century gardens of Piazza Bra, stands the majestic Palazzo della Gran Guardia. This imposing building with majestic architecture occupies the southern side of Piazza Bra, the largest and most iconic square in Verona.

History of the Palazzo della Gran Guardia

The history of the Palazzo della Gran Guardia begins in the seventeenth century when the Republic of Venice, which ruled Verona at the time, decided to erect a new building intended to review the troops indoors, even in bad weather. Construction began in the late 1609, under the guidance of architect Domenico Curtoni, nephew, and pupil of Michele Sanmicheli. To reduce time and costs, it was attached to the walls of the Cittadella; nevertheless, due to financial difficulties, the work was interrupted in 1622. The east side of the noble floor, starting from the ninth window, remained incomplete for much of the eighteenth century.
Construction resumed in 1819, when Verona was already under Austrian rule, and the work was entrusted to engineer Giuseppe Barbieri. The noble floor was completed, and the imposing internal staircase was added. However, just before the work was finished, construction had to be halted again, and the palace was occupied by the Habsburg military due to the first war of independence. The palace was finally completed in 1853.
Throughout the twentieth century, the building underwent significant restorations and transformations. Today, Palazzo della Gran Guardia is primarily a center for cultural events, art exhibitions, concerts, and conferences. Its majestic architecture and central location make it a perfect setting for a variety of public and private events.

Architecture of the Palazzo della Gran Guardia

The architecture of Palazzo della Gran Guardia is a superb example of Venetian Renaissance style. The building's facade is characterized by a long 86-meter-long loggia, in rusticated stone, with thirteen large arches on the ground floor that open onto Piazza Bra. These arches are surmounted by paired columns supporting an upper floor adorned with finely decorated windows.
A distinctive element of the architecture is the noble floor, which offers a panoramic view of the square below and creates a fascinating atmosphere, especially during summer evenings when the building is beautifully illuminated. The five central large windows, flanked by eight intermediate windows, four on each side, surmounted by pediments and followed by two smaller windows, the columns, arches, and decorative details of the entablature with metopes and triglyphs give the building a regal appearance that integrates perfectly with the surrounding architecture.

Other Monuments in Piazza Bra

Piazza Bra is one of the most iconic places in Verona, and it is not just the location of Palazzo della Gran Guardia. In the same square, you will find the Arena di Verona, a well-preserved Roman amphitheater that hosts shows and concerts during the summer. The Arena is one of the few Roman amphitheaters left in the world and still in use, representing a symbol of Verona.
In the immediate vicinity of Palazzo della Gran Guardia, there is also Palazzo Barbieri, which houses the Municipality of Verona. This elegant neoclassical building adds further charm to the area and reflects the administrative and cultural importance of the square.
Piazza Bra begins beyond the Portoni della Bra, with their distinctive clock; it is flanked by cafes, restaurants, and shops, creating a lively and welcoming atmosphere that attracts visitors from around the world. It is the Liston: the wide sidewalk that flanks Piazza Bra on the west side and connects Corso Porta Nuova with Via Mazzini, an ideal place to stroll, admire the architecture, and enjoy outdoor life, especially on summer evenings when outdoor tables are largely occupied.
In conclusion, Palazzo della Gran Guardia and the surrounding treasures in Piazza Bra represent an essential part of the history and culture of Verona. These fascinating monuments, with their iconic architecture and cultural function, continue to be a source of inspiration for visitors and a testament to the importance of Verona in the Italian artistic and historical panorama. Piazza Bra, with its vibrant atmosphere and rich heritage, is a place that certainly deserves a visit when exploring this beautiful city.

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