The Public Palace is the heart of San Marino’s political life and history, and it is here that the installation ceremony of the Captains Regent takes place every 6 months: on April 1 and October 1, every year.
The Palazzo Pubblico stands on the so-called “Pianello,” or Piazza della Libertà (Freedom Square) and stands on the site of the Domus Comunis Magna, built between 1380 and 1392 and repaired several times.
In the second half of the 19th century, the Palazzo Vecchio had the appearance of a 17th-century building: on May 17, 1884, the foundation stone of the present Palace was laid, designed by Roman architect Francesco Azzurri, president of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, by local stonemasons directed by San Marino master mason Giuseppe Reffi, using stones extracted from quarries on the Titano.
The inauguration took place on September 30, 1894, the orator of the ceremony was Giosuè Carducci, who on the occasion delivered the famous speech on “perpetual freedom.”
It was later restored and refurbished by the internationally renowned architect Gae Aulenti, to adapt it to the renewed requirements of functionality and safety: the solemn inauguration took place on September 30, 1996.
The facade is richly decorated with numerous symbols: the Coat of Arms of the Republic and of four Castles: Serravalle, Fiorentino, Montegiardino and Faetano. There are also icons of smaller localities acquired over the centuries by the Republic.
It is supported by three ogival arches, dominated in the center by a polygonal balcony with two decorated large windows on either side. Between the two small windows of the mezzanine stands the Coat of Arms of the Republic. On the left side rises the crenellated bell tower like the rest of the castle: this bears the images of St. Agatha, St. Marino and St. Leo under which the clock is placed. In the corner, at mezzanine level, is a bronze Statue of the Saint. Under the porch, to the right, is a marble bust of the architect Azzurri, the work of Giulio Tadolini.
Inside, the walls of the atrium are plastered with trophies, inscriptions, coats of arms, friezes, and busts of illustrious men, even non-San Marino ones (among them the italian poet Carducci), who have marked the country’s history.
But the treasure that this palace has guarded for centuries is the Council Chamber on the upper floor, which is accessed by an imposing staircase: in its seats, the sixty members of parliament of the Titan have been meeting since 1848.
On the wall at the end of the hall towers the image of the founding saint, surrounded by his people. Peasants, soldiers, learned men, women and boys stand listening to Saint Marino as he admonishes them “Relinquos vos liberos ab utroque nomine” (“I leave you free from both men,” implying the figures of the Pope and the Emperor).
There are also the Hall of Congress and Audiences and the Hall of Scrutiny, whose windows look out onto the Piazza and from which, by a spiral staircase, there is access to the terrace and the Tower.
The Piazza in front, known as Pianello or Piazza della Libertà, houses underneath it ancient tanks for the collection of rainwater, once used as a water reserve for San Marino residents.
Opposite the Government Palace stands the former post office building rebuilt in 16th-century style on the foundations of the 14th-century Parva Domus of the municipality.
Piazza della Libertà – San Marino City
Phone +378 0549 883152
Daily: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The museum is closed on: January 1, afternoon of November 2 and December 25
The visit can be included in the 8 euro cumulative ticket that includes all state museums and monuments.
Visiting hours and fees are subject to change.
photo credits: Matteo Paciotti