Monday, May 13, 2013

Bramante's Papal Stables in Viterbo

precarious column 

 very few people  are aware of a hidden masterpiece of the Renaissance architect located in the center of Viterbo. 

As a resident here  for  the past 20 years I was surprised  to discover the existence of this gem designed and built by architect  Bramante   between  1506-1510. 

smack in the city center but hidden from view 

The magnificent  stables  hidden  in  piazza Sallupara were  commissioned by  Pope Julius II   to house about  100 horses of the papal entourage.

the main hall of the Papal Stables 
 And they were kept in style, in a  majestic  hall  with vaulted ceilings   lined with  24  pillars.

The building’s existence was unknown  not only to me, but to most of the townspeople eventhough it is  close to the historic center and  the Albornoz fortress , seat of  the local  Etruscan museum. 
Pro Loco  opened the Bramante stables for the first time 

Thanks to the new  Pro Loco  of Viterbo  the site was opened and   guided visits  were given to illustrate this, one  of city’s  least known  sites.

Viterbo's  well known  Fontana Grande 
The building has been used diversely  over the centuries: for storage, as a tobacco barn  and then  in  1822  it became  the city prison. 

During World War II it was one of the many buildings of Viterbo  to be destroyed by Allied bombs and since then it has been an  eyesore of the historic center.  
 Unexploded bombs  were recuperated from the site even  last  January. 

Now it is  finally being  restored  with money made available by a local bank and the Lazio Region and will eventually become a civic  and cultural center.  

stones and columns  lined up 

Pro loco  members Davide, Michele and friend 

Here is an article in Italian about  the  papal stables

Have you visited Viterbo?  What is your favorite place in the area?  Leave a comment  in Italian or English and share with friends by clicking on the Facebook or Twitter icons  just below. 
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For other information about the Viterbo and Northern Lazio area see my website.


  1. I had seen the work being carriedout but had no idea what it was. I hope the restoration will go ahead quickly and the new building will be opened to visitors. Christina

  2. What a great discovery. It is a pity that it remains in poor condition. It is hard for me as an American who has lived her entire life in Los Angeles to conceive of the state of ruin in which Italy was left after The War. It is good to see however, that even at this late date, restoration is under way. Thanks also for the link for the papal stables.

  3. thanks Adri and Christina for your comments. This Saturday, 18th May for the Night of the Museums in Rome, you can visit another Bramante masterpiece: The Chiostro of Bramante, where painter Justin Bradshaw is showing his Rome Sketchbook.