Palazzo della Cancelleria History
Built between 1485–1511 as the palace of Cardinal Raffaele Riario, the
Palazzo della Cancelleria was later used as the offices of the papal chancery
and, under Napoleon, as law courts. It stands on the Piazza della Cancelleria and is now the
residence of the Cardinal-Vicar of Rome.
The palace is one of the most important and influential examples of
15th-century Roman architecture, but no documentation identifies its architects. Raffaele
Riario, great-nephew of Sixtus IV, traditionally financed the palace with the winnings of one
night's gambling. It was taken from the Riario family after they were involved in a plot
against Pope Leo X; the offices of the papal chancery were then installed. The church of S
Lorenzo in Damaso, rebuilt with the palace, was incorporated into its fabric.
The long travertine façade, probably completed by 1495, is an elegant
and delicate combination of flat rustication with paired pilasters on the first and second
storeys; it is framed with slight protruding end bays.
The windows are based on an ancient Roman prototype. The design, which
reflects the influence of Alberti's Palazzo Rucellai, Florence, has been interpreted as
combining elements typical of Florence, Urbino and Rome.
The wild rose, the Riario family emblem, is used in the decoration.
The ground floor of the side flank incorporates shops; the Cancelleria was the
first Renaissance palace to revive this ancient Roman tradition. The simple
and harmonious courtyard features superimposed open loggias and a closed second storey
decorated with pilasters.
It is said that the 44 granite columns were taken from the Theatre of
Pompey and that stones from the Colosseum were used for general building purposes.
Palazzo della Cancelleria Map&Location
Address: Piazza della Cancelleria, 1, 00100 Roma, Italy. Get help with directions using the
map provided bellow:
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