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Palazzo della Cancelleria

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 fa├žade, 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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 Palazzo della Cancelleria Photos

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Palazzo della Cancelleria (1) © Gashwin Gomes
Palazzo della Cancelleria (2) © dvdbramhall
Palazzo della Cancelleria columns © Luisa
Palazzo Courtyard © Jean-Louis Zimmermann
Palazzo della Cancelleria detail © Stijn Nieuwendijk
Palazzo della Cancelleria inside © RamblingRovers