piazza grande

The Piazza with its paving made of cobblestones and its Ghirlandina tower, delimited to the north and east by the Cathedral and the Town Hall, was recognised by UNESCO as heritage of mankind.It is the centre of life of the city. A weekly Saturday market used to take place here and on those occasions it was a colourful meeting place. In 1931 the market was moved, but the piazza has remained the centre of tradition: it is a festive and crowded place on Saint’s day 31 January in honour of the local patron saint, San Geminiano, and on Thursday before Lent. On these occasions the piazza can be seen in its time-honoured bustle of stalls, umbrellas and people.The piazza also had a strong civil calling: testimony of this is the preda ringadora, in the north-eastern corner in front of the monumental staircase of the town hall. The name means that this was the corner from which to "harangue to crowds", the pulpit for speeches. In front, in the apse of the cathedral, the pole, tile, brick and fathom units of measure are engraved, which assured honest trading in the piazza. This bears witness to the fact that the piazza was a place of great economic importance and the heart of the city.

ducal palace – military academy

The Ducal Palace, whose construction began in 1634 on design of Avanzini, distinguishes itself as illustrious example of 18th century civil architecture and one of the largest Baroque palaces in Italy. The elegant façade has three windows placed side-by-side and crowned by balustrades with statues. The central and lateral parts are raised. The courtyard of honour with an elegant two-storey arcade is considered a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. From here you access the monumental staircase of honour adorned with Roman statues, which leads to the numerous rooms of the Estense Residence. Special mention should be made of the Sala del Trono, Salottino d'Oro, Salone d'Onore and the Sala dello Stringa.Today the palace is the headquarters of the Military Academy.The History Museum of the Military Academy holds weapons and armatures, memorabilia, relics and military items flags, uniforms, drums, etc.

Visiting hours: The Ducal Palace can be visited guided tours only every Sunday throughout the year except August from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Visits must be previously booked by calling the information desk on + 39 059/206660. The cost of the guided tour is € 7 per person. Free of charge for children under 12.

IAT – Information and Tourist WelcomeVia Scudari – Modena+ 39 059/206660


ModenaturVia Scudari – Modena+ 39 059/220022


modena: a land of engines

An entrepreneurial spirit, a passion for engineering and the myth of speed are the ingredients underlying the undisputed motoring vocation that has earned Modena and its surroundings the nickname "Land of Engines".

The industrial and cultural motoring heritage of the area around Modena boasts such famous names as Ferrari, Maserati, Pagani Automobili, B.G.Engineering, De Tomaso and Bugatti. Discovering the world of motor vehicles in and around Modena focuses on galleries and collections open to visitors where enthusiasts and the merely curious can enter a world of custom-built cars, legendary vintage cars, races and championships, speed and emotions.

Among car museums and gallery:Umberto Panini Vintage Car and Motor-Cycle Museum Cittanova of ModenaStanguellini Vintage Car Museum ModenaRighini Private Collection of Vintage Cars Panzano of Castelfranco EmiliaFerrari Gallery Maranello of Modena

san cataldo cemetery

A masterful expression of the poetics of Aldo Rossi, the cemetery is an analogical route through the collective images of the “house of the dead”, filtered through the personal memory of the architect. The cemetery remains a public building with the necessary clarity and rationality of the paths with the right utilisation of the terrain. It is enclosed by a windowed wall to provide the citizens and visitors with an image focalised on the idea of space. The melancholy of the theme of death does however not detach it from the other public buildings. Its order and position also comprise the bureaucratic aspect of death. The building, today partially completed, is structured in such a way as to confine wide green spaces further marked by a criss-cross of pedestrian paths. The various building complexes run parallel to each other towards the central “vertebral” axis which objectively, almost “physically”, links the orientational lines of this section of the project. These compositive lines volumetrically degrading in north-south direction will make up a “rib” inscribable in a triangle which, when construction has been completed, will represent one of the characterising elements of the whole works. The rhythmic articulation of the openings, framed by the cold neatness of the surrounding walls are to this day interrupted in counterpoint only by the central cubic element destined for the ossuary which, when the works have been completed, will be in visual balance with the conic tower of the common grave, also thanks to a decisive colour differentiation of the walls, instrumental for clear perception and identification within the sphere of the surrounding townscape.

churches in the historic centre

The Church of St. Augustine.Erected in 1338 on an existing construction, it was completely transformed in 1663 on commission of the duchess Laura Martinozzi to celebrate the obsequies of her husband and destine it as cemetery and pantheon for the Estense family. The interior is in the shape of a Latin cross and richly adorned with stuccos, statues, busts and bas-reliefs regarding the house of d’Este with a beautiful coffered ceiling painted by famous artists. The first chapel to the right of the entrance hosts the Mourning on the body of Christ by Antonio Begarelli. Underneath the right-hand choir is a fresco from the old church depicting the Madonna of Consolation with Child attributed to Tommaso da Modena. At the end of the right-hand cross is a rich carved and gilded wooden altar of the 17th century inside which there is a painting by Francesco Stringa painted when the church was restructured. Enframed in an oval is the image of the Virgin placed here instead of the fresco by Tommaso da Modena and venerated as Madonna of St.Augustine or of the belt.

The Church and ex College of San Bartolomeo.

ChurchBelonging to the Jesuit order, the building was started in 1607, but the façade completed only in 1727. The furnishings and paintings in large part date back to the 17th century.The magic view reproduced in the interior of the church is magnificent. The rostrums made by Lana and the paintings which adorn the side chapels with the Glories of St. Ignatius are exquisite.

Ex CollegeThe building complex of San Bartolomeo dating back to 1607, originally hosted a College of the Jesuit Fathers where the young Modenese received religious education and got underway studying literature and science. When the Society of Jesus was suppressed in 1773, the College became the property of the Patrimonio di Studi and from 1798 to 1821 the rooms were occupied by the Supreme Council of Justice. After the Austro-Estensi returned to Modena in 1814 and the Society was restored, the Jesuits came back to San Bartolomeo in 1821, but little over 30 years later, with the end of the dukedom, they finally abandoned the city and the rooms were destined for the public school.For over a century, from 1860 to 1973, the building was the headquarters of the Liceo Classico Muratori secondary school, while the 18th century chapel of the Dames, next to the main entrance, at the beginning of the 20th century became the headquarters of the fire brigade, then gymnasium and finally multi-purpose hall. In 1985 the building, temporarily hosting the San Carlo secondary school, was hit by fire.

The Church of St. Biagio.The church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Carmine, was erected in 1319 according to a plaque inside the church. It was reconstructed, although preserving the original framework, on design of Cristoforo Malagola, called the Galaverna, as well as embellished in decorations and paintings. The old church of St. Biagio, situated on Via Emilia in the area where today the Palazzo Montecuccoli of the Erris rises, was demolished in 1768 and the parish moved to Carmine, the latter assuming the name of St. Biagio of Carmine. The interior with only one nave with six arches per side which host the side altars has a deep apse. The choir and the large cupola were painted by Mattia Preti. Of the 18th century frescoes by Agostino Mitelli and Angelo Colonna which adorned the vault of the sacristy, today only the central part remains. Facing the cloister dating back to the 14th century and situated to the side of the church is a small chapel with a beautiful gilded coffered ceiling and a detached fresco depicting the Madonna breast-feeding the Child, attributed to Tommaso da Modena.

The Church of St. Francis.The church was constructed over a very long period of time - started in 1244 it had not yet been completed in 1445. In 1535 it was completely restructured together with the adjacent monastery. In 1798 it was adapted for military use, thus suffering a rapid decline until in 1826 the duke Francis IV had it restored, reopening it for worship. In the interior the Deposition of Christ being lowered from the Cross can be admired, as well as a group of thirteen statues sculpted around 1523 by Begarelli.The Fountain of St. Francis is found in the court which opens on the northern side of the church of the same name.Rising from it is the bronze statue of St. Francis preaching to the fish, designed by the engineer Cavazzuti. The statue is the work of Giuseppe Graziosi and dates back to 1938.

The Church of St. Peter.In ancient times annexed to the Benedictine Abbey founded in 983, the church was reconstructed between 1476 and 1518. The façade of the church, in terracotta, is crossed by an exquisite frieze, also in terracotta, composed of intertwined seascapes with winged satyrs realised around 1530.The interior, divided into five naves, is rich in works made between 1400 and 1500 and is virtually an exhibition of the local artists of the time. The six large terracotta statues leaning against the pillars of the central nave were sculpted by Begarelli and depict the Madonna of the Conception and the various saints. Of particular importance is the ninth chapel in which the Apogee of Begarelli, the last work of the artist, is found, depicting the Madonna in Glory and the saints Peter, Paul, Geminiano and Benedict. At the end of the right nave the Pietà can be admired.Of particular value is the sacristy with the racks in splendid inlaid work carried out by Gianfrancesco da Cremona in 1548.

the cathedral

Erected in 1099 in the place where previously an early Christian church and the sepulchre of San Geminiano stood - whose body was solemnly transported to the cathedral on 30 April 1106 in the presence of the countess Matilde di Canossa - it was consecrated by Pope Lucius III on 12 July 1184. Designed by the architect Lanfranca, it is entirely covered with white marble and adorned with numerous sculptures. Remarkable are the reliefs on the façade with the Stories of Genesis made by Wiligelmo, as are the sculptures which adorn the central door. On the southern side there are the Principi door by the school of Wiligelmo and the Regia door work of the Campionese Masters. The Pescheria door opening on Via Lanfranco has an archivolt sculpted with depictions of the Breton chivalresque cycle and the allegories of the months on the sides of the portal. The interior is basilican with three naves and presbytery, accessed through two staircases, and a crypt underneath. At the end of the central nave, the ambo and the pulpit stand out with the sculptures by the Campionese Masters dating back to the 12th and 13th century. Among the works preserved in the cathedral, the 15th century choir stalls with wooden inlays made by the Lendinaras can be admired, and in the crypt, the terracotta group created by Guido Mazzoni for the Porrini family around 1480.

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ghirlandina tower

The Ghirlandina Tower, so called because of the double twist of balustrades which crown it like a garland, is 86 meters high and the symbol of the city.It harmoniously combines two styles of two different eras: the square-based part is coeval with the cathedral and follows the Roman architectural canons, while the octagonal-based part and the pyramid which constitutes the cusp are from a later period with a more clearly Gothic style they were started in 1261 on design of Arrigo da Campione and completed in 1319.UNESCO has added the Ghirlandina, together with the Cathedral and Piazza Grande, to the list for preservation of the artistic heritage of mankind.

Open on Sundays and public holidays from April to October and 31st January 9.30-12.30 a.m. and 3-7 p.m.. Closed in August and on Easter Sunday.

museum building

The Museum Building, built in the eighteenth century, was converted in 1881 into a museum housing the paintings and books of the Este family and the Civic Cultural Institutes. It includes:

Estense Library
this contains printed books, sixteenth century incunabula and numerous illuminated manuscripts from the 14th to the 16th centuries. The most precious text is the famous Borso D'Este Bible, a masterpiece of Ferrara illumination 15th century
Estense Gallery
this is one of the most important collections in Italy and reflects the Este family's interest in painting and sculpture, not to mention archaeology and the minor arts. Valuable items include the marble bust of Francesco I d'Este by Bernini, the portrait of Francesco I by Valasquez, Saint Anthony of Padua by Cosmè Tura, the Madonna and child by Correggio, a triptyque by El Greco and a Crucifix by Guido Reni. The nucleus of northern Italian paintings from the 14th to the 18th century is outstanding.
Civic Museums
the Archaeological Ethnological Civic Museum contains the earliest evidence of the presence of human beings in the Modena area. Alongside materials from the Neolithic era, the Copper Age, the Bronze Age and the first half of the Iron Age, evidence may also be seen of Etruscan, Celtic and Gallic rule and of Roman Modena. The ethnological collections include exhibits from New Guinea, pre-Columbian Peru, South America, Africa and Asia. The Civic Art Museum collections, result of generous private endowments, of acquisitions an of findings from the territory, still continuing today, document aspects of modenese history and culture from XIX to XX century, and are distinguished by their variety and richness: paintings, ceramics, ancient fabrics, musical instruments, scientific instruments and weapons.

Museum BuildingViale Vittorio Veneto, 5Information + 39 059/2033125E-mail palazzo.musei@comune.modena.itHours: everyday 8 a.m.-7.30.

galleria civica

Founded in 1959 by the City Administration, the Galleria Civica of Modena is today one of the most authoritative centres of culture in Italy. Through temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and photography, and thanks to the numerous co operations with prestigious museums, associations and galleries throughout the world, this museum has achieved international renown, particularly in recent years.

It has two exhibition halls:

- Palazzo Santa Margherita in Corso Canalgrande 103, first and second floor, with broad, articulated spaces for exhibitions mainly of drawings and photographs, small personal exhibitions, cycles displaying and recognizing the research conducted by the last generation of artists. - Palazzina dei Giardini in Corso Canalgrande, a XVII century building, a suggestive site for monographic and retrospective exhibitions.

It also has some permanent collections: - the Collection of Contemporary Design - the Collection of Contemporary Photography- the Collection of Contemporary Graphic Art- the Museum of picture cards

Galleria CivicaCorso Canalgrande, 103Phone information + 39 059/2032940; call center + 39 059/2032911Fax: + 39 059/2032932E-mail: