Recently restored and situated between the present Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and Campo de’ Fiori and Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, the imposing Palazzo della Cancelleria was built for Raffaele Riario, nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, who lavished every resource on it – according to rumors, even gambling winnings – transforming it into an elegant Renaissance residence. Begun in 1485, the works ended under the pontificate of Julius II Della Rovere and involved the destruction of the ancient church of San Lorenzo in Damaso, which was rebuilt and incorporated into the new building. Shortly after its completion, the building was confiscated from the Riario to become the seat of the “New” Apostolic Chancellery, once housed in the Sforza Cesarini palace. The palace is still Vatican property and nowadays houses various Church offices, including the Roman Rota, the Holy See’s highest ecclesiastical court.
The bone-colored travertine of the Palazzo was spolia from ancient Roman ruins, including those of the nearby Theatre of Pompey. The curvilinear façade towards Campo de’ Fiori and via del Pellegrino is embellished with a finely sculpted balcony attributed to Andrea Bregno. The grand portal, added in the 16th century by Domenico Fontana, gives access to the elegant three-tiered courtyard, today unanimously attributed at least for its conception to Bramante. From here, it is possible to reach the building’s “piano nobile” with sumptuously decorated halls. Welcoming visitors is the huge Aula Magna, with the famous clock face painted by Baciccia. The Salone d’Onore, located immediately next door, was instead frescoed by Giorgio Vasari and assistants in just 100 days, and for this reason it is also called Salone dei Cento Giorni, Hall of the Hundred Days: the frescoes depict some of the most important episodes in the life of Pope Paul III Farnese who commissioned it, for example the famous meeting between the pope, Charles V and Francis I which took place in Nice in 1538. The Cardinal Apartment houses the Cappella del Palio, embellished with stuccoes and paintings by Francesco Salviati, and the Salone di Studio with the vault frescoed by Perin del Vaga.
In the basement of the building, reachable through the rooms on the ground floor that house the permanent exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci, it is possible to see the tomb of the Roman consul Aulio Irzio, completely immersed in the water of a small lake that was formed following the obstruction of the Euripus, the canal that in ancient times crossed the Campo Marzio to then flow into the Tiber.
Monday-Saturday: 7.30 am - 2.00 pm // 4.00 pm - 8.00 pm;
Visits to the Sala Riaria (Aula Magna) and the Salone dei Cento Giorni:
Tuesday afternoon and Saturday morning
Price: € 7,00
Booking required (at least one month in advance): tel. +39 0669893405 (Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica) otherwise by e-mail: email@example.com
Visits to the Chapel decorated by Francesco Salviati:
Monday and Thursday afternoon
booking required: tel. +39 0669893405 (Amministrazione del Patrimonio della Sede Apostolica) otherwise by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org