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History of the Palace

palazzo farnese cortile

The construction of Palazzo Farnese was commissioned by the duchess of Parma and Piacenza, Margaret of Austria (1522-1586), the daughter of Charles 5th and wife to Ottavio Farnese.

The architect Francesco Paciotto (1521-1591) had initially been in charge of the residence construction. The first project, carried out in 1558, aimed to exploit the old foundations of the Visconti Castle, previously built upon request of Galeazzo Visconti in 1352. The long absence of the architect and the impossibility to use the old foundations convinced the dukes to ask another architect: Jacopo Barozzi known as Vignola (1507-1573), who had already worked at the villa in Caprarola.

In the project, dated 1561, Vignola thought of expanding the four wings of the building and to increase the width of the yard. The lack of funds prevented the completion of the project, as a matter of fact the part which was built corresponds to the half of the building designed by Vignola.

The decadence of the palace began with the extinction of the Farnese dynasty and the transfer of their wealth to the Borbone. In 1734 Carlo Borbone (1716-1788), after becoming king of Naples, moved all the paintings and furniture from the palace to Naples. Further ransacked by Napoleon’s troops in 1803, the palace was subsequently occupied by the homeless during the second world war. In 1965 the ‘Ente per il restauro e l’utilizzazione di Palazzo Farnese’ (Board for the restoration of Palazzo Farnese) began restoring the palace. In 1976 the whole complex, which was still state property, was given to the Municipality of Piacenza, which made it the headquarters of the ‘Musei Civici’ (Municipal Museums). In 1988 the first section of the Museums was inaugurated; the complex grew in the following years until it finally included all the four sections. In 2014 the palace became a Municipal property.


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