Ferrara, Italy

Registration Year

1995

Registered Sector

Ferrara, City of the Renaissance and its Po Delta

Historical Function

Culture and art.

Administrative Status

Chief city of the province of Ferrara.

Location and site

In the northeast of Italy's Emilia region, between Bologna and Padua, Ferrara is situated in the lower Po Valley, upriver from the large Po Delta.

Historical Reference

  • The town of Ferrara was established on both sides of the Po River, at the location where the river was crossed by the Roman road leading to Padua. In the 8th century a Byzantine fort was erected on the river's north bank in order to protect the Bishop's Palace on the south bank from the threat of the Huns. A port developed along these two banks. The riverbed was modified in the 17th century when the river was rerouted.
  • In the 10th century Tebaldo of Canossa, a seigneur of Ferrara, erected a castle on the north bank of the river. The city developed between its two poles, the fort and the castle, until its central node, the cathedral, was built on the north bank in the 12th century.
  • With the arrival of the regional government of the Este family in 1208, and especially after the investiture of Ferrara by the Pope in 1332, the city underwent three planned urban expansions to the north; each time the fortifications were pushed out. Urban perspective played an essential role in the most extensive of these, which took place in 1492.
  • Under the Dukes of Este, in the 15th and 16th centuries, the free city of Ferrara was a centre for humanist thinking and the arts. Pietro Bembo, Piero della Francesca, Ariosto and Tasso lived there, and Cosimo of Tura founded Ferrara's school of art.
  • When it became part of the pontifical states in 1598, Ferrara's growth was blocked. It was occupied by the French and then the Austrians, and was integrated into the Kingdom of Italy in 1859.

Urban Morphology

Ferrara is surrounded by bastioned fortifications which are exceptional in design. The great longitudinal axes crossing the city, which provided a framework for its planned extensions, remind us of its linear development. In accordance with the design of the architect Biagio Rossetti (1465-1516), urban perspective views were organised around palaces, churches and gardens. Surrounded by four contemporary palaces, a square in the north of the city constitutes a superb illustration of an urban plan based on visual perspective.

Inside the fortifications are numerous palaces, churches and monasteries. The cathedral, constructed between the 12th and 16th centuries, possesses Romanesque and Gothic elements. It is surrounded by other medieval buildings including the Palazzo Communale and the Castello Estense. Among the numerous Renaissance palaces of which Rossetti was the principal architect are the Palazzo Schifanaio, the Palazzo Lodovic le More and the Palazzo Roverella.

Registration Criteria

Ferrara is an exceptional example of a Renaissance city which has preserved its urban fabric virtually intact. The evolution of urban design as manifested in Ferrara had a profound influence on the future of this discipline over the course of subsequent centuries. During the two prolific centuries of the Renaissance, the brilliant court of the Este family attracted a myriad of artists, poets and philosophers of great renown, including the new humanists of the Italian Renaissance. (II), (IV) and (VI)

Contact

Sindaco Tiziano Tagliani
Maire
Comune di Ferrara
Piazza Municipale, 2
44100 Ferrara, Italia
Tel:
+39. 532 41.95.54
Fax:
+39. 532 41.94.56
Email:
comune.ferrara@cert.comune.fe.it
Monsieur R. Rossi
Directeur
Ufficio Segreteria Assessore
Urbansitica-Edilizia Privata Rapporti Internazionali-Gemellaggi Pizza Municipale
21-44100 Ferrara, Italia
Tel:
+39.532 24.06.40, 23.93.24
Fax:
+39.532 23.94.72, 23.93.89
Email:
s.bottoni@comune.fe.it