History

THE PALAZZO

History

In the historic center, a few hundred meters from Piazza Maggiore and the Due Torri, there is a noble palace that was built in the mid-16th Century to house a Pope.
Palazzo Boncompagni (now Benelli) is located in Via del Monte 8 and is one of the finest examples from the Bolognese Renaissance.

A previously unknown site, the Palazzo has recently begun to establish itself as a venue for important exhibitions and cultural events. Thanks to the commitment of the Pizzighini Benelli family, it is experiencing a period of intense research that is bringing to light new elements and curiosities that are enriching our understanding of Bologna and its history.
To learn about these discoveries, step by step, alongside scholars, restorers and owners, just follow the ART AND ARCHITECTURE page, as well as the PALAZZO STORIES area of our site, in which we reveal the secrets of this historic residence.

Pope Gregory XIII, who was previously known as Cardinal Ugo Boncompagni, lived and was educated inside the Palazzo. He resided here until he was elected to the Papal Throne, which took place on May 13th 1572, and the subsequent coronation, which took place on May 25th of the same year.

Quadreria

THE BUILDING

The building was constructed on the initiative of Cristoforo Boncompagni, father of Ugo, shortly after the city of Bologna had passed from the lordship of the Bentivoglio family to the state of the Church. It was the second most important city, after Rome of course.

A plaque, still present on the noble floor, recalls that the works on the building ended in 1548. The design of the original nucleus of Palazzo Boncompagni is attributed to the Sienese architect Baldassarre Tommaso Peruzzi (1481-1536), but its completion and decoration, both inside and outside, must be referred – according to scholars – to Jacopo Barozzi, also known as Vignola (1507-1573).
The unmistakable trace of this great Renaissance architect is the helical staircase, the fulcrum of the building.

FInestrotto

Vignola, one of the most important exponents of Mannerism, is famous for constructing buildings of great elegance, as well as having defined the concept of architectural order with extreme clarity in his famous Rule of the Five Orders of Architecture. This work is one of the most influential and widespread of all time.
In addition to the splendid helical staircase, Vignola has been attributed to the conclusion of the gallery and the access portal to the staircase, thanks to his signature style of vigor and maturity. The decoration at the top of the window, above the door, appears similar to those Vignola designed for the Palazzo dei Banchi in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna.

On the large decorated portal of Via del Monte, dated 1545, there is the papal insignia of Gregory XIII, Ugo Boncompagni. It takes the form of a winged and tailless dragon that aroused little surprise and heavy criticism from his major opponents. To learn about the history of the Boncompagni Dragon, simply consult the PALAZZO STORIES section.

As evidence of the love and bond with his hometown, in 1575, the Jubilee year, Pope Gregory XIII Boncompagni commissioned a fresco depicting the map of Bologna painted inside the heart of the Apostolic Palaces, between the Pope’s private apartments and offices of the Secretariat of State. The space was given the name “Sala Bologna” and in this space the only non-religious building that appears with a golden roof is Palazzo Boncompagni.

Ingresso Palazzo Boncompagni

Starting from 2017, Palazzo Boncompagni has been reopened to the city for special occasions, such as FAI days, contemporary art exhibitions and private events. From June 18th it will be possible to visit with guided tours lasting about 45 minutes. Place your booking HERE.

EVENTS

May 2022

450 years
of Pope Gregory XIII

1572-2022

On May 25th, 450 years ago, Ugo Boncompagni was crowned Pope and given the name “Gregory XIII”, after a very short conclave held on May 13th 1572.
On the occasion of this symbolic anniversary, the Palazzo Boncompagni Foundation is organizing a rich program of activities.