Palazzo Altieri – Museum and art gallery

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Palazzo Altieri, a sumptuous Baroque abode, is in Oriolo Romano (VT), a village built by Giorgio di Santacroce in 1561-1585, following the deforestation of the Manziana Forest. In the same period, the building was designed as the cornerstone of the main square. The very building style, along with its surrounding urban area architecture, is allegedly attributed to Jacopo Barozzi, also known as “Vignola”.

Other owners of the palace supervised its further construction: the Santa Croce family, (from the beginning in 1578 until 1604), the Orsini family (from 1604 to 1671), and in particular the Altieri family (from 1671 to 1971), who gave it the current configuration under the direction of Carlo Fontana.

The sixteenth-century building, with a central body with a five-arched loggia (between two lateral bodies, raised in the form of a tower), two wings were added facing north, thus creating a large courtyard. The turret with the clock was raised above the other, the entrance with the basaltic stone bridge was embellished, and the beautiful fountain in the center of the square was remodeled. The interior of the palace is divided into large rooms, decorated with stuccos, frescoes and beautiful paintings, some of the latter attributed to Taddeo Zuccari. The furnishings have largely gone missing, but what remains of it is from the 17th century. Palazzo Altieri is currently a Baroque art museum and art gallery.

On the ground floor, in the central hall, called “Sala degli Avi”, there are portraits of the main members of the Altieri family. To the west of the atrium the grotesque frescoed staircase leads to the “throne room”; to the east, the “Giuseppe room” is decorated with mannerist frescoes. The eastern bastion houses the apartment of the eldest son, Onofrio III Santacroce, who had the palace frescoed with Old Testament stories attributed to the late Mannerist painter Giovanni Baglione: the “Jacob’s dream room”, the “room of Joshua”, the “room of David “ – with the rare representation of the holy ark – and the “room of Elisha“.

The other rooms contain paintings that belonged to the Altieris: the picture gallery “delle Belle”, “degli Avi”, “of Popes, cardinals, and princes”, and the original “Galleria dei Papi” – 70-meter long, featuring portraits of popes created by Cardinal Paluzzo Altieri, and taken from San Paolo fuori le mura church. The “dining room”, the “room of the views”, and the “room of the Belle” are decorated with canvases, stuccos and neoclassical furnishings by architect Giuseppe Barberi.

The garden: construction started in 1582 – at the behest of George III – intended as a hunting garden; it develops on an area of about 20 acres. In 1671, the Altieris built a bridge to connect it to the main floor of the building.
The overall result is a natural park with large countryside areas, unusually anticipating the typical English garden of the nineteenth century.

Purchased by the Italian State and currently owned by MIBACT, Palazzo Altieri has been managed by the Lazio Region since December 2014. On the other hand, the garden is owned by the local municipality.

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


Piazza Umberto I, 20 - 01010 Romano (VT)(VT)

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