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The palaces of power

The Palaces of Power in Arezzo represent an important architectural testimony to the history and culture of the city. These magnificent buildings are or were the fulcrum of political power in Arezzo from the Middle Ages to the 20th century and still retain their historical and cultural relevance today. Admiring these palaces means immersing oneself in the rich history of Arezzo and appreciating the importance that this city has had over the centuries.

The Palazzo dei Priori hosts the town hall of Arezzo. Built around 1333 on top of the hill of San Pietro, to house the supreme magistracy of the free commune and later the main jurisdictional and administrative bodies that have succeeded one another in the city up to the present day, it has a mighty crenellated tower that characterises the city’s profile.

The Palazzo Pretorio stands along Via dei Pileati. The building is the result of the amalgamation of 13th-century palaces that belonged to Guelph families. From 1290 it was the seat of the Capitano del Popolo and for centuries housed various magistracies. The façade bears the coats of arms of the podestà and commissioners chosen by Florence to govern the city from 1434. Today it houses the “City of Arezzo” Library.

The Palazzo della Provincia, the seat of Arezzo’s provincial administration, was built between 1913 and 1922 based on a design by Giuseppe Paoli thanks to the amalgamation of various buildings from different eras. In the following years, the painter Adolfo De Carolis frescoed the rooms. His most famous work is the Sala dei Grandi with the “Illustrious Men” born in the Arezzo area.

The Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici tells much of the history of Arezzo. Originally founded as  the headquarters of the Arezzo institution that arose in the second half of the XIII century and has been a point of reference in the city’s welfare and cultural spheres ever since, the building was begun in 1375. Since 1786, the palace became a court seat and since 2010 it has been adapted to become the Museo di Palazzo di Fraternita (Fraternita Palace Museum), the ground floor houses the Gold Museum.

The Palazzo Vescovile is the residence of the bishop of the vast diocese of Arezzo, Cortona and Sansepolcro. The building was commissioned by Bishop Guglielmino degli Ubertini, who moved here in 1256. Part of the rooms on the ground floor now house the MuDAS – Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art. The main floor is also a museum and includes the evocative Hall of Justice.

Palazzo Albergotti, also known as Palazzo delle Statue, is the most important example of neoclassical architecture in Arezzo. Built between 1792 and 1799 to a design by Leonardo Massimiliano de Vegni, in 1830 it was purchased by Leopold II of Habsburg-Lorraine to become a grand ducal residence. Today it houses the local Soprintendenza Archeologia, Belle Arti e Paesaggio.

The Palazzo del Governo (Government Palace) on Poggio del Sole is one of the greatest architectural masterpieces built in Arezzo in the first half of the twentieth century. Appreciated for its monumentality and essentiality, the building designed in 1936 by Giovanni Michelucci stands on an area where there was an Etruscan necropolis and later one of the city’s first Franciscan settlements.

The Palazzo di Giustizia (Palace of Justice) in Arezzo, which won the IAA International Prize for the best building in 2002, is an artefact in osmosis with the surrounding landscape and pre-existing buildings. Close to the Fortezza Medicea and inside a historical park, the new volume houses the main courtrooms and the offices of the presidency of the Court, and is connected to a neoclassical building, formerly a hospital structure, restored and used for offices and archives.