Palazzo della Cancelleria
The Palazzo della Cancelleria (Italian for "Palace of the Chancellery", meaning the Papal Chancellery) is a Renaissance palace in Rome, Italy, situated between the present Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the Campo de' Fiori, in the rione of Parione. It was built between 1489–1513 by an unknown architect as a palace for Cardinal Raffaele Riario, Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, and is regarded as the earliest Renaissance palace in Rome. The palazzo houses the Papal Chancellery, is an extraterritorial property of the Holy See and as such is designated as a World Heritage Site.
The Cancelleria was built for Cardinal Raffaele Riario who held the post of Cardinal Camerlengo to his powerful uncle, Pope Sixtus IV. The rumor was that the funds came in a single night's winnings at gaming. The building has traditionally been attributed to Bramante and Andrea Bregno. Current opinion of the architect's identity is divided, with Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Baccio Pontelli suggested as having been involved in the early stages of design.
In 1517, the newly completed palazzo was seized by the first Medici Pope, Leo X, who had not forgotten the complacency of Pope Sixtus at the time of the murderous Pazzi conspiracy intended to replace the Medici in Florence with a Della Rovere regime. From 1753 the vice-chancellor was the Jacobite pretender to the throne of Great Britain, Henry Stuart, Cardinal Duke of York, the Jacobite "Henry IX of Great Britain".
During the Roman Republic of 1849, the parliament briefly sat here.
Palazzo della Cancelleria was the first palazzo in Rome to be built from the ground up in the new Renaissance style. Its long façade engulfs the small Basilica Church of San Lorenzo in Damaso, the Cardinal's titular church, that sits to its right, with the palatial front continuing straight across. The entrance to the church is on the right side of the facade. The 5th-century church (its interior has been rebuilt) sits, like the Basilica di San Clemente among others, upon a Roman mithraeum (pagan sanctuary). Excavations beneath the cortile in 1988 – 1991 revealed the 4th- and 5th-century foundations of the grand basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso, founded by pope Damasus I, and one of the most important early Christian churches in Rome. A cemetery in use from the 8th century until shortly before the palazzo's construction was also identified.
The façade with its rhythm of flat doubled pilasters between the arch-headed windows is Florentine in conception, comparable to Leone Battista Alberti's Palazzo Rucellai. The overall pattern of drafted masonry, cut with smooth surfaces and grooves around the edges, is Ancient Roman in origin. The grand doorway was added in the 16th century by Domenico Fontana on the orders of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese.
The building's bone-colored travertine was scavenged from the nearby Roman ruins of the Theatre of Pompey, for the Eternal City was a field of ruins, built for a city of over a million people that now housed some thirty thousand. The forty-four Egyptian granite columns of the inner courtyard are from the porticoes of the theatres upper covered seating, however they were originally taken from the theatre to build the old Basilica of S. Lorenzo. Brunelleschi's cloisters of Santa Croce in Florence, which may have also inspired the courtyard of Luciano Laurana's Palazzo Ducale of Urbino (circa 1468) has been suggested as a possible source of inspiration. It is more likely that the form of the courtyard is derived from that of the Ducal Palace in Urbino, since the individuals involved in the early planning of the palazzo had come from Urbino.
In the palazzo is a vast mural that Giorgio Vasari completed in a mere 100 days (therefore called Sala dei Cento Giorni). He boasted of this accomplishment to Michelangelo, who responded "Si vede" ("It shows"). In the palazzo a little private theatre was installed by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, and in the later 17th century the Cancelleria became a center of the musical life of Rome.
- Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura (accessed: 2011-07-22)
- A Jacobite Gazetteer - Rome, (accessed: 2011-07-22)
- Middleton, John Henry (1892). Remains of Ancient Rome, volume 2. Adamant Media Corporation. p. 69. ISBN 140217473X.
- Palazzo della Cancelleria Apostolica
- The Vatican: spirit and art of Christian Rome, a book from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on the Palazzo (p. 370-4)