Palazzo del Quirinale

The Quirinal Palace (known in Italian as the Palazzo del Quirinale or simply the Quirinale ) , which rises on the homonymous hill, is the current official residence of the President of the Italian Republic on the Quirinal Hill, the tallest of the seven hills of Rome and one of the most important palaces of Rome, for its historical, political and artistic features.


The current site of the palace has been in use since Roman times, as excavations in the gardens testify. It was on this hill that the Romans built many temples to their deities, from the Temple dedicated to Flora to the Temple of Quirinus (a local god after whom the hill was named.) During the reign of Constantine the last complex of Roman baths was built here, as the statues of the twins Castor and Pollux taming the horses decorating the fountain in the square testify. The Quirinale, being the highest hill in Rome, was very sought after and became a popular spot for the Roman patricians, who built their luxurious villas. An example of those are the remains of a villa in the Quirinal gardens, where a mosaic, part of the old floor has been found.

Foundation of the current palace
The palace, located on the Via del Quirinale and facing onto the Piazza del Quirinale, was built in 1583 by Pope Gregory XIII as a papal summer residence. The pope wanted to find a location which would have been far away from the humidity and stench coming from the river Tiber and the unhealthy conditions of the Lateran, therefore the Quirinal hill was one of the most suitable places in Rome. On the site there was already a small villa owned by the Carafa family and rented to Luigi d'Este. The pope commissioned to the architect Ottaviano Mascherino the building of a palace with porticoed parallel wings and an internal court. The project was not fully executed, due to the death of the pope in 1585 but it's still recognisable in the north part of the court, especially in the double loggia facade, topped by the panoramic Torre dei venti (tower of the winds) or Torrino. To the latter a bell tower was added according to a project by Carlo Maderno and Francesco Borromini.

From the Seventeenth century to the taking of Rome
Pope Paul V was the one who commissioned the completion of the works on the main building of the palace. It was also used as the location for papal conclaves in 1823, 1829, 1831, and 1846. It served as a papal residence and housed the central offices responsible for the civil government of the Papal States until 1870. In September 1870, what was left of the Papal States was overthrown. About five months later, in 1871, Rome became the capital of the new Kingdom of Italy. The palace became the official royal residence of the Kings of Italy, though some monarchs, notably King Victor Emmanuel III (reigned 1900–1946) actually lived in a private residence elsewhere, the Quirinale being used simply as an office and for state functions. The monarchy was abolished in 1946 and the Palace became the official residence and workplace for the Presidents of the Italian Republic. Some, still, declined the Colle residence and kept their usual Roman residence: for example, Sandro Pertini preferred his old flat near the Trevi fountain. The façade was designed by Domenico Fontana. Its Great Chapel was designed by Carlo Maderno. It contains frescos by Guido Reni, but the most famous fresco is the Blessing Christ by Melozzo da Forlì, placed over the stairs. Its grounds include a famous set of gardens laid out in the eighteenth century.



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