Palace of the Elders Ancona - History and Facts | History Hit

Palace of the Elders Ancona

Ancona, MAR, Italy

The Palace of the Elders in Ancona has been a seat of local governance for centuries.

Peta Stamper

06 May 2021

About Palace of the Elders Ancona

Palazzo degli Anziani or the Palace of the Elders in Ancona, Italy, was built in 1270. Its Romanesque-Gothic style has been altered a great deal over the centuries. Originally the seat of the city magistrates, upon the inception of the Republic of Ancona the Palace of the Elders became host to the Council of Elders – hence the name.

Palace of the Elders Ancona history

The first building on the site can be dated back to 425 AD. Built by Galla Placidia, Roman Emperor of the West, the palace was the seat of imperial administration. This original Byzantine style palace featured a tower, oratory and chapel. However, during increasing attacks from the Saracens, the first building was seriously damaged.

Starting from the 13th century with the birth of the Republic of Ancona, the palace shifted from imperial seat to become the centre of the city’s magistrates. The new building for the municipal purpose was erected in 1270 and was designed in the Romanesque-Gothic style by Margaritone d’Arezzo. The palace was constructed on steep terrain, and as such, had a unique structure as it was built against the hillside.

The Palace of the Elders’ 6 floors all served different functions that included a municipal warehouse, a guardhouse and armoury, and a large meeting hall for the General Council of the Republic. The palace was seriously damaged during a vicious fire in 1348, after which the council relocated and the palace was eventually passed to the Church.

During the 16th century, the upper facade was redesigned with limestone to feature porticos with Gothic double-arches. Internally, a grand staircase was built as the roof was raised to give the Hall of Honour more grandeur. The Palace of the Elders remained the municipal administrative seat until 1943 when it was bombed during World War Two.

Having been repaired, the palace was then the Francesco Podesti Civic Art Gallery until 1973 when it spent many years unused until 2011 when the building once again resumed its position as an administrative site – this time for the Landslide and Heritage Sectors.

Palace of the Elders Ancona today

Today, the palace commands a sweeping view of the port of Ancona. Visitors to the Palace of the Elders can see the stages of its history and the layers of architectural design in its outer walls. From the square, the windows that replaced Gothic gables are evident, as are the patchwork of repairs after successive damages were made.

Inside, you can see the beautiful romantic work of Francesco Podesti, hung in the palace in 1856 where it remains today. The Palace of the Elders is also a stop along the cultural tours of Ancona.

Getting to the Palace of the Elders Ancona

Located along the Via Ciriaco Pizzecolli, the Palace of the Elders is in the Piazza Stracca. There is a bus stop in the square on bus line 11 that travels throughout the town. Ancona Train Station serving train lines FA, FB, FR, IC, ICN, REG and intercity buses is a 28 minute walk from the palace. For those driving, there is parking at Stamira by the port, a 13 minute walk.