Urbino: Palazzo Ducale

Urbino: Palazzo Ducale

This is the last post from Marche. But before we’ll say ‘good buy’ to her let me show you the real pearl of renaissance architecture: Palazzo Ducale. I can tell you that Giorgia from Marche Holiday was right: Urbino is all about renaissance and Palazzo Ducale is the best example to show you this.


Palazzo Ducale dominates the city skyline: it is visible from Fortezza and from few squares throughout the city. The most characteristic elements are two thin and very tall towers that were constructed in few stages. I had a bad luck and when I was visiting Urbino the towers were covered with scaffolding and couldn’t fully appreciated this precious architectural element. There were extensive conservation works ongoing in few rooms inside too. Despite of this, Palazzo Ducale impressed me so I can only imagine its splendor and plan another trip to Urbino after the works are done to fully enjoy it!

Window view, Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, Marche, Italy

Window view, Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, Marche, Italy

“It’s all about light!” – I was told when the history of Urbino was explained to me. And you see it from the very first moment you enter this impressive building. A staircase you see below is the first one ever constructed this way. Starting from this building all other European lords and dukes followed this pattern. Duke of Urbino – Duca Federico Montefeltro – made his palace full of light and when others saw it they wanted the very same thing in their courts. This was the first staircase in Europe that has been constructed this way: perfect proportions, very large windows, beautiful ornaments and comfortable steps.

Interiors of Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, Marche, Italy

Interiors of Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, Marche, Italy

Duca Federico

Duca Federico was a powerful man! Indeed. He ruled Urbino from 1444 to 1482 and in these years he had completely changed this city. If you think about influential people in Italian history and art he is the one who comes to mind in top 3. Duca Federico was very special and Urbino is still his city. Although many years have passed and Urbino has turned into a vibrant university city it still keeps his original thoughts about greatness in it.

Library of Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, Marche, Italy

Library of Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, Marche, Italy

Federico was passionate about two things: war and art. This is not a very popular combination, is it? Either someone loves to fight or to contemplate works of art. Federico loved both. And was amazingly good in it! Long story short: after he won few wars with neighbor dukes he became very rich. And instead of loosing his money on vanity he was determined to immortalized his love towards beautiful objects. He decided to construct a palace like no other. And he was very successful in it. Watching it today I can easily believe that this was a stunning piece of architecture in his own times.


Urbino, in times of Duca Federico, was full of artists. The best artists of renaissance worked here: Piero della Francesca, Giovanni Santi (father of famous Raphael), Luciano Laurana, Perugino, Signorelli, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Bramante and so many others. At some point every ambitious artist must have spent part of his artistic life in Urbino. What is really sad about it is that paintings and sculptures created by these artists are scarce in Urbino. Although Palazzo Ducale was turned into National Gallery of Marche there are few popular objects exhibited here. Not even famous portrait of Duca Federico and his wife that was taken to Galleria Uffizi.

Works of art displayed in Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, Marche, Italy

Works of art displayed in Palazzo Ducale, Urbino, Marche, Italy

Palazzo Ducale

I spent in this museum few hours and was able to visit only one floor. Although the museum does not have the most renown paintings of Italian renaissance it is still worthy to pay a visit. Rooms, corridors and stairs, everything immersed in Italian light make great impression. Following the itinerary you will experience for yourself the greatness of the duke. Starting from relatively modest and small rooms you proceed through the larger ones, up to his own apartment with amazing ‘study room’. A huge ball room with large windows and lovely celling is a cherry on the cake.

What I appreciated the most was a very elegant details and ornaments. This particular interior design still keeps its beauty: modest but carefully crafted and with prefect proportions. I enjoyed my stay in this museum very much even though it has no new technologies employed. The building itself is stunning and walking in these rooms was a great experience. I really hope to get back to Marche as soon as possible. I would love to visit Urbino again, participate another truffle hunt, taste new wines or just sit under an olive tree. Thanks again my awesome hosts from Marche Holiday whose services I sincerely recommend and see you next time!

So it’s not really a ‘good bye’, rather a ‘see you soon’! See previous posts here!

For the record: I have recently started to work with City of Poznan – My Home City – so stay tuned for a series of posts from here!

I love Ferrara - alternative way to spend your holiday

I love Ferrara – alternative way to spend your holiday

Have you ever thought about visiting Italy? Here is an alternative way on how to visit Italy and get really close to the Italian way of life. I created a project ‘I love Ferrara‘ so you could join me and experience how beautiful and tasty Ferrara is. If you wish to immerse in Italy book your holiday now!

About the author

I get easily fascinated with people and places. I am passionately curious. I get often seduced with the beauty of nature. Blue sky, pure water, white snow and endless horizon seams to be enough to make me happy.

View all articles by Agata Mleczko

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  • Karen Warren

    I see what you mean about light – you’ve got some lovely pictures! I’ve never been to Urbino but I can see I’ll have to plan a visit there.

    • It definitely is worthy a visit. I hope to revisit Palazzo Ducale! Beautiful site!

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  • Susan VibrantIreland

    Beautiful! ANOTHER fab place to visit in Italy :-D

  • A shame from the scaffolding, nevertheless it still looks very impressive.
    Lovely photos again

  • Wow, what a strange and interesting dichotomy – creating art and waging war at the same time. Still, Frederico left a lot of stunning work behind.