The buildings

Palazzo Ducale

The Ducal Palace of Modena has been the seat of Estense Court between 16th an 18th century. The palace hosts the prestigious Military Academy of Modena since Italy's unification. Among the most famous former students of the Academy there are 10 Marshals of Italy, a Sky Marshal, 31 Ministers, 6 Presidents of the Council, 31 Senators of the Kingdom, 3 Senators of the Republic and a Deputy: the names of most famous of them are written in the Memory Gallery in the History Museum of the Military Academy, which is in the Palace itself.

The construction of the Palace started with Francesco I d'Este in 1634 and finished with Francesco V and was built on a previous fortress "Forte Estense", its architecture was shaped also by Bernini's and Borromini's interventions.

The magnificent facade of the Palace has been recently renovated and is lightened by the chromatic effect of marbles.

From the main door of the Palace you get into the elegant "Main Courtyard", where the military ceremonies take place and reach the "Monumental Staircase".

The admirable ceiling of the central hall was painted in the 17th century by Marco Antonio Franceschini. It portrays the crowning of Bradamante, the forefather of Este Family, already praised by Ariosto in its Masterpiece "Orlando Furioso".

Evocative evidence of the splendor of the small Modenese court in the eighteenth century is the "Salottino d'oro", the working cabinet of Duke Francesco III, who in 1756 had it covered and decorated with panels of pure gold. 

In front of the Palace there is a statue of the Resurgence hero Ciro Menotti, while behind the Palace there are Modena's "Public Gardens", called before Estensi botanic gardens.

Town Hall

The Town Hall is not made up by a unique Palace, it is, indeed, the result of renovation interventions during the 16th century of several administrative and representative buildings (built from 1046).

The ancient Civic Tower (today called Torre Mozza) collapsed in 1671 after an earthquake.

The remarkable Sala delle Bifore (Double Lancet Windows Room) shows the old medieval facade, which was a few meters backwards. 

Municipal Theater

This theater, planned in 1838, was built thanks to Modena's podestà (the Marquis Ippolito Livizzani) and with the contribution of the Duke of Modena Francesco IV.

The architect Francesco Vandelli planned it on a city area of more than 2.000 square meters, which was obtained through the demolition of some houses.

The theater was opened three years later, on the 2nd of October 1841, with the name of "Teatro dell'Illustrissima Comunità".

Albinelli Market

Albinelli Market is a fruit and vegetable market in Modena Old Town, existing since the first half of XX century. The Modena inhabitants call it "covered market", so it is sometimes called "Albinelli covered market".

Complesso di Sant'Agostino

Sant'Agostino building complex covers more or less 25.000 square meters and is located at the gates of the Old Town. Initially the building complex was used as an hospital, the so-called Grande Spedale degli Infermi, wanted by the Duke Francesco III during the half of XVIII century. Shortly thereafter the hospital was extended and its front side on Via Emilia was doubled, in favor of the military infirmary.

Although the general hospital was built later, this hospital has been used until 2005, when the staff and the hospital service had to move to the new hospital of Baggiovara.

Between 2005 and 2008 the Foundation of Cassa di Risparmio di Modena bought the whole building complex, in order to transform it into the new cultural pole equipped with library, language center for the internationalization, image and photography center and exhibition center, with the aim of promoting several complementary and economic activities.

This project has been followed by the study of the architect Gae Aulenti and is the result of a protocol of understanding signed in 2007 between Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Modena Municipality.

Santa Margherita Palace

Santa Margherita Palace is in Corso Canalgrande, in the heart of the Old Town, where there was once an ancient church dedicated to Santa Margherita. In the 12th century  the Palace was used as a convent and became later a barrack, in 1874 became also the seat of Patronato dei Figli del Popolo. 

Today Santa Margherita Palace hosts the Civic Gallery, Delfini Library, the Cards Museum and the Music Institute Orazio Vecchi. The Civic Gallery covers the Great Hall, where the main activities of the Gallery take place; in the rooms upstairs, opened in 2004; there are also a didactic laboratory and a bookshop. 

Foro Boario

Foro Boario is a remarkable structure of architectural and urban interest: its dimensions, placement and type make it, indeed, unique.

It is made up by a two-faced long building (long ca 250 meters), with four sides equal two by two.

In the main building, which is 45 meters long, there is a panoply clock in the pediment, made by Luigi Righi, who portrayed the Allegories of the Armies, Fertility, Arts and Time.

Foro Boario was built in the first half of the 18th century by will of Francesco IV d'Austria d'Este (Duke of Modena, Reggio and Mirandola since 1815) who asked the architect Francesco Vandelli, author of many other public and private buildings in the city, to follow the project.

Today there is still a tombstone on the left side of Berengario Avenue, wanted by the Duke himself, with the edification date (1831) written on it and the inscription to the farmers (Honori et comodo fidelium agricolarum) who gave their contribution to the building.

This structure was initially used for cattle trade and for the storage of agricultural products, but after 10 years the building complex was converted into a barrack. 

During the reign of Umberto I, the citizens claimed the use of this building (in accordance with the will of the Duke himself). In 1989 the building was modified and adapted to become the main building of the Faculty of Economics of the University of Modena, opened in 1994 on the upper floors of the building.

On the ground floor, on the east side, there are now the library of the faculty and on the west side, there's the temporary exhibition area. Since 2002 there have been several exhibitions in the building, promoted by the Foundation of Cassa di Risparmio di Modena.

San Cataldo Cemetery

San Cataldo Cemetery (Monumentale Cesare Costa e Aldo Rossi). 

Just outside the Old Town there is San Cataldo Cemetery. It is made up by two parts: an ancient and a recent one. The first one has the name of the architect Cesare Costa, it was made between 1858 and 1876 and there you can see many works of high artistic value.

Enzo Ferrari is buried here near his son Dino, as well as the athlete Alberto Braglia and Virginia Reiter, an actress who lived many years in Modena.

The other part, the modern one, is the monumental cemetery "Aldo Rossi". It was built according to the project of the architect Aldo Rossi. The construction of the cemetery is now mostly completed and has been planned in order to limit the wide green areas with paths made of crosses for pedestrian. 

The church is inside the cemetery.

Storchi Theater

The theater takes its name from Gaetano Storchi, a rich merchant of Modena who supported the theater's construction. This building rises on a new building area, obtained through the construction of Garibaldi Barrier (1884) and the demolition of Porta Bologna (1882).

The location of the theater influenced the particular double facade structure of the building: the main facade is on the northern side which faces on Garibaldi Square, while the west side, made by the architect Maestri, faces on Martiri della Libertà Avenue, that used to be the walking path of the city walls.

The building was based on a specific project, according to which there should have been utility rooms, fumoir and cafes; however the ground appeared immediately to be unstable, the project itself was meant not to be expensive and the materials employed were also cheap and poor, all of these elements caused very soon the instability of the building. Many were, indeed, the renovation interventions to recover the building, among them we can mention the covering and the modification of the curvature of the opera hall made by the engineer Luigi Sfondrini from Milan and the renovation of the outer structure with new plaster and frames (of 1929). Further interventions were undertaken also in 1931.