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piazza delle erbe mantova, mantova's square

Piazza delle Erbe Mantova

Piazza Erbe Mantua

Piazza delle Erbe is one of the main piazzas in Mantua.

It began to take shape towards the end of the twelfth century when the communal city started to expand further afield than the vault of San Pietro, past the historical roman town which during that time stood on the current Piazza Sordello. A vast area of dirt on the eastern side of the monastery of Sant’Andrea was destinated to the cattle market so that the livestock market could be held. The latter was moved to a more peripheral place. The space in front of via di Sant’Andrea, which is now Via Broletto, where small shops rented out to merchants had already been built, was divided in two by the Palazzo del Podestà (which is also known as Palazzo del Broletto) and transformed into the administrative centre of the Municipality.

On the eastern side of the area which was to become Piazza delle Erbe, arose the Palazzo della Ragione. The Rotonda of San Lorenzo which was commissioned by Matilde di Canossa and is a fine example of Romanesque architecture already overlooked the piazza that was being developed. Its circular structure recalls the Holy Sepulchre, thus exalting its auxiliary function with respect to the Precious Blood of Christ, which is kept and venerated in the nearby Basilica of Sant’Andrea.