PAPAL PALACE (PALAZZO DEI PAPI)
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
The Palazzo Papale (Papal Palace) was built on commission by Raniero Gatti in the year 1266. The purpose was to provide the pontiffs of town guests a secure dwelling. This decision coincided with the initiative undertaken in 1257 by Alexander IV, who was concerned about the present political instability in Rome. He saw it best to transfer the base of the Pope in the city, where it would be easier to rearrange the Guelph resistance. There’s no documentation regarding the next extension and restructuring of the Bishop’s house, situated in the area later occupied by the Hospital Grande degli Infermi. The restoration that occurred in the early years of the last century has brought to light the Gothic style of the building. It also noted the strong difference between its northern side characterized with defensive structures that face the Valley Faul, and the southern façade overlooking the Piazza del Duomo. Joined in such an area by a dramatic staircase, the façade is primarily characterized by a small lodge, located to the right of the scale defined by the elegant arches and surmounted by an entablature. Built in 1267 by order Capitano del Popolo Andrea di Beraldo Gatti. The arcade had the function to welcome the Pope at the time of the act of blessing the crowd. We do not know the name of the artist who carried it out, but we know that local workers carried out the work of running the gallery. This increased the number of Lombard schoolteachers working in Viterbo from the birth of early settlements. In the beginning the colonnade which is now only on the south side, extended also on the opposite side and had the function of supporting the original roof of the lodge. The beauty of this area was highlighted by the play of colors that adorned the coat of arms, in which Church and Empire were represented by mitres and crossed keys and eagles with outstretched wings. The lodge welcomed also the emblem of the Gatti family and the rampant lion, the city symbol. The fountain in the center of the terrace is supplied with water through the column, which is visible under the portico. It was built during the fifteenth century, using the upper basin of the ancient fons papalis that was built by Visconte Gatti in 1268. It was made to transport the water in the city from the Mazzetta area. Parts fof the fons papalis disappeared during the centuries. On the front of the tank are shown the coat of arms of the Gatti family, Sixtus IV della Rovere, Cardinal Raffaele Riario and Francesco Maria Settalla. In 1325 in a letter to the Comune, Pope John XXII emphasized the hazardous conditions of the porch. Later on the northern side collapsed. The elevation of the façade was saved only because of the reinforcement of walls between the columns. The interior is divided into a series of sections that have undergone major changes between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. The most important section of the building was the Hall of the Conclave, which occupies the second floor of what today is called the building tower. Although later than the rest of the structure, it received a major event in the history of the Papal States. The Conclave for the election of Gregory X, which ended after 33 months. During this Council they started to discuss the “Gregorian Constitution” which established stricter regulations on the election of popes. The interior spaces are lit with 12 round-headed lancet windows topped with a single rectangular shape and composed of trefoil arches resting on a central column and two small half-side. One of the most representative section is the Sala di Gualtiero, named after the bishop, who ordered the renovation during the sixteenth century. It ended with the construction of a coffered ceiling and the completion of a cycle of frescoes on the walls, a large hall on the top floor, in addition to the original frescoes everything was kept in the style of the XIII century. The construction of these two sections imposed a change in the orientation of the N-S connection which served as a link between the cathedral and the palace.
Traduzione di Amanda Santini, California State University, Stanislaus. Programma USAC presso Università degli Studi della Tuscia.
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