Welcome to the Quirinal Palace

The Quirinal Palace is built around the Courtyard of Honor (Cortile d'Onore) From the courtyard, going up the Staircase of Honor (Scalone d'Onore), there are the rooms of the piano nobile and the reception rooms

By Quirinale Palace

Institutional visit

Courtyard of HonorQuirinale Palace

The Courtyard of Honor

The Cortile d'Onore is the first space that welcomes visitors when they enter the Quirinal Palace. It looks like a large arcaded square with a harmonious and consistent appearance, but it is actually the result of four distinct construction phases between 1583 and 1616.

Quirinale PalaceQuirinale Palace

The oldest part is easily identifiable in the building, which acts as a backdrop, on the short side to the north surmounted by the torrino (tower).

It is distinguished from the other wings of the building by the two overlapping arcades enclosed by windows, as well as by the two short bodies that frame it on the sides.

The building, designed by Ottaviano Mascarino, was originally an isolated villa.

It is part of the building built between 1583 and 1585 for Pope Gregory XIII, who wanted to spend the hot Roman summers on the Quirinal hill. It was cooler and more ventilated compared to the Vatican area.

Under the pontificate of Sixtus V, the building was enlarged. The long wing facing the square was built on the left facing the Gregorian building and the pre-existing building in front of the villa was incorporated. Domenico Fontana carried out these works between 1588 and 1590.

The palace and the courtyard were finished by Paul V, who wanted to make the Quirinal Palace an alternative to the Vatican and hold larger and more solemn ceremonies there. Flaminio Ponzio designed the wing facing the garden, while Carlo Maderno built the wing to the south, expanding the palace of Sixtus V.

Virtual reconstruction of the Gallery of Alexander VII in the 16th centuryQuirinale Palace

From the courtyard, the Quirinal's torrino is clearly visible, which crowns the Apartments of Gregory XIII (Palazzina di Gregorio XIII).

The virtual reconstruction shows the appearance of the building in the 16th century.

The tower, designed by Mascarino, was originally only a panoramic viewpoint, with the windows open on all four sides.

The windows provide remarkable views over Rome.

Quirinale's TorrinoQuirinale Palace

The torrino is surmounted by a bell tower, added in 1626. Below is a clock and the mosaic with the Madonna and Child Blessing (Madonna e il Bambino Benedicente).

The clock was added in 1626 and was later modified several times. 

The current clock dates back to the early 1900s and has a Roman dial. The dial is based on the ancient Roman counting method. There are only six hours rather than 12. 

Clock and mosaic with the Madonna and Child blessing on the TorrinoQuirinale Palace

Therefore, in the space of 24 hours, the hand makes four complete turns instead of the more typical two.

Below the clock, the central window of the tower is covered by a mosaic, created in 1696 by the mosaicist Giuseppe Conti. It is based on a painting by Carlo Maratta, held in the Vatican Museums. 

From the tower window, the image gives the illusion of a supernatural apparition of the Madonna and Child. Jesus' gesture recalls the rite of blessing which, on some occasions, the pope gave to the people gathered in the courtyard.

Quirinale's TorrinoQuirinale Palace

The Italian flag, the European flag, and the presidential standard fly over the torrino. The presidential standard, positioned to the left of the Tricolor, is hoisted when the President of the Republic is in Rome.

From the main entrance of the building, there is a short ramp on the left, which leads to the portico of the western wing. This is where the so-called Gallery of Regions (Galleria delle Regioni) is located.

It is given this name as the flags of all regions in Italy and the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano are exhibited there.

Staircase of HonorQuirinale Palace

The Staircase of Honor

Scala d'Onore was built by the architect Flaminio Ponzio as part of the distinct architectural intervention commissioned by Paul V. It was started in 1609 together with the east wing of the building towards the garden.

Staircase of HonorQuirinale Palace

The staircase gives guests direct access to the two main rooms in the building, intended for delegation: the Grand Hall of the Cuirassiers (Salone dei Corazzieri) and the Ballroom (Salone delle Feste).

Flaminio Ponzio built a double criss-crossed ramp that grants access to both the southern and eastern wings of the building.

This architectural solution was particularly functional in the time of the popes as the other rooms were used for the pontiff's apartment and could not be cut through.

Staircase of HonorQuirinale Palace

The double ramp structure also gives the architecture a majestic and solemn monumentality. At the intersection of the ramps, a large landing allows views over the Quirinal gardens.

Looking up from the landing, the Redeemer in Glory among Angels (Redentore in Gloria fra Angeli) by Melozzo da Forlì can be admired. This was created around 1480.

The work makes up the central fragment of the fresco that decorated the apse of the Church of Santi Apostoli in Rome.

Redeemer in glory among angels (circa 1480) by Melozzo da ForlìQuirinale Palace

When the church was renovated in 1701, Pope Clement XI had the fresco removed and the central fragment with the Redeemer placed in the Quirinal Staircase in a position that allowed the original view from below to be revived.

Further fragments are now preserved in the Vatican.

In this extraordinary work, Melozzo makes strong use of figurative art, referencing the styles of Piero della Francesca and Andrea Mantegna, as well as Flemish painting.

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