Urbino, the historic center
Urbino rises in the hills of the Marche region and is a city with a great historical and artistic wealth.
Surrounded by walls, Urbino became the “cradle of the Renaissance” and, even today, walking through its historic center you can breathe the fifteenth-century air.
Thanks to its Renaissance character, Urbino became part of the UNESCO world heritage list in 1998.
The city experienced its maximum splendor in the 15th century, above all thanks to the figure of Federico di Montefeltro, who wanted to make Urbino the ideal city of the Renaissance. This great patron, in fact, knew not only to transform Urbino into a magnificent court, but also to attract the best that the Italian Renaissance humanistic culture could offer to the duchy, hosting artists such as Piero della Francesca, Luciano Laurana, Leon Battista Alberti, Francesco di Giorgio Martini , Girolamo Genga and Raphael’s father, Giovanni Santi. Both Bramante and Raffaello then began their artistic activity right here in Urbino. Raphael in particular was trained in his father’s workshop and made his debut with works made in the nearby localities of the Duchy.
Walking along the steep and narrow streets of Urbino you will come across all the Renaissance buildings: the former Monastery of Santa Chiara, the Church of San Domenico, the Mausoleum of the Dukes in the Church of San Bernardino and the amazing Ducal Palace.
The Ducal Palace of Urbino is one of the most interesting architectural examples of the Italian Renaissance. It was built at the behest of Federico di Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and built over about thirty years, starting in 1454. Artists and architects such as Maso di Bartolomeo, Luciano Laurana and Francesco di Giorgio Martini worked there. There are numerous rooms on the noble floor, including the Courtyard of Honor, the Staircase of Honor, the Library, the Throne Room, the Angels’ Hall, the Audience Hall. During the sixteenth century, with the passage of the Duchy to the Della Rovere dynasty, the building underwent new extensions and modifications, with the addition of the second noble floor, the so-called “Roveresco apartment”. Today the Ducal Palace houses the National Gallery of Marche with works of art by Raphael, Titian and Piero della Francesca.
View of the historic town of Urbino (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Marche, Italy (foto © Shutterstock.com)
Raphael’s birthplace in the homonymous street is also worth a visit. Here Raphael spent the first years of his life; here he drew on art in his father’s workshop, training and establishing himself as a painter. The museum house preserves furnishings strongly linked to the artist, as well as the fresco of the Madonna and Child, from 1498.
Other wonders of art are hidden in the alleys of Urbino. These include the Oratory of San Giovanni Battista, a masterpiece of international Gothic, where the frescoes by Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni are preserved: an imposing pictorial cycle representing the Crucifixion of Christ, behind the main altar, and the Stories of the life of St. John the Baptist.
Another small artistic gem is the Oratory of St. Joseph, seat of the homonymous brotherhood founded in the early 16th century by the Franciscan father Gerolamo Recalchida from Verona. In a chapel there is the valuable work made in tuff and pumice by the sculptor Federico Brandani and representing the Nativity of Jesus Christ (dating back to the sixteenth century). Another chapel is richly frescoed with the Facts of the life of St. Joseph by Carlo Roncalli, a painter from Urbino, and with a marble statue of the saint, a work by Giuseppe Lironi.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, was renovated in the neoclassical style at the end of the eighteenth century by the architect Giuseppe Valadier. Inside there are some of the most significant examples of art between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Among the paintings and furnishings, the treasure of the Cathedral stands out, namely the sacred furnishings donated by Pope Cremente IX. Here is also kept a Last Supper, a masterpiece by Federico Barocci.
Text: Luca @ Italien.blog
Urbino, Unesco World Heritage Site in the Marche, Italy. (foto © Shutterstock.com)