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This is the Palazzo della Ragione in Padua (Italy).

The building was the ancient tribunal of the medieval city.

Simply called "Salone" (= hall) because of its big hall on the upper floor, whose walls are all covered by frescoes, it is the most important palace in town, built during the XIII century.

In the early decades of the thirteenth century, the commune of Padua enjoyed a phase of political, economic and military expansion. Palazzo della Ragione was the focus of this period of history and its most characteristic civic monument. The palazzo's main function was a seat of justice and its court remained acrive until 1797. Over the centuries, this was shared with its commercial and social roles at the centre of the network of markets.

The porticoes of the Salone offer an attractive pattern of white Istrian stone and ammonite red in the columns and balaustrades. They were added to the thirteenth century façades during work on the building by Fra Giovanni degli Eremitani from 1306 to 1309.
At that time, the upturned ship's keel-shaped roof, with its lead covering, was also added.
The result was a single internal space of imposing proportions that dominates the surrounding piazzas with its personality. The original nucleus of the Palazzo dates from 1218. The ground floor has always been a market while the upper floor was split up to house various courts. There was once a mezzanine floor, which was removed after a devastating fire in 1420, and there may also have been a second floor with a reception room.



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The interior of the Palazzo della Ragione is a huge free space dominated by a dizzyingly high vault, which earned it the nickmane of "Europe's largest hanging hall". The Salone is home to an endless succession of eminent individuals, signs of the zodiac, constellation, planets and allegorical figures that merge in an extravagant swathe of colour to form a vast tapestry along the walls.
The superimposed bands of frescoes provide us with one of the few astronomical cycles that have come down to us intact. They are interwoven with images inspired directly by the place itself, wich served as a court. The original decoration was by Giotto, but was lost in 1420 fire. Immediately afterwards, it was restored by Nicolò Miretto and Stefano da Ferrara. The parades of notables is given added fascination by the dark, imposing figure of the wooden horse wich was carved in 1466 at the behest of Annibale capodilista for a public tournament, in imitation of Donatello's Gattamelata. Scholars no longer attribute the work to Donatello himself, for he had left Padua by that time.

Nevertheless, Vasari in his Lives of the Most Eminent Italian Architect, Painters and Sculptors mention that the artist was working on "the skeleton of a horse in wood", The horse was placed in the Salone in 1837. Shortly before, the carver Agostino Rinaldi had remodelled the head and tail.











 

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