Mantua (in Italian "Mantova") is a city in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province with the same name.
- Located at 45.10N, 10.47E.
- Area of the commune: 63.97 sq. km
- Population of the commune: 47,790 (2001 census); 53,065 (1991 census)
The town was founded presumably around 2000 BC on the banks of the Mincio river, a sort of island among its waters (an indeed safe natural protection), and in the 6th century BC was an Etruscan village that Etruscan tradition described as re-founded by Oscno . The name derives from Mantus, an Etruscan god of Hades. The Romans, who conquered it between the first and second Punic wars, confused Mantus with Manto, a daughter of Tyresia (Tiresias). Publius Virgilius Maro, Virgil, was born here (Mantua me genuit).
Mantua was invaded (after the decay of the Roman Empire) by Goths, Byzantines, Longobards and Franks, and then it became a possession of Canossa, whose last ruler was the famous countess Matilde of Canossa (d. 1115). According to the legend, she ordered the construction of the precious "Rotonda di San Lorenzo" (1082).
In 1198 Alberto Pitentino optimised the course of the Mincio, creating what Mantuans call "the four lakes", enforcing the natural protection.
In the Middle Ages, Mantua was ruled by several families which became extremely important in the history and culture of Italy, among which the Bonacolsi and the Corradi di Gonzaga (or, briefly, Gonzaga; 1328-1708).
The Gonzaga protected art and culture, and hosted several important artists like Leone Battista Alberti, Andrea Mantegna, Donatello, Luca Fancelli , and Nicoḷ Sebregondi .
Notably, the town contains many artworks and architectural treasures that record its important epochs: the Duomo, the Palazzo Ducale, the Magna Domus, the Palazzo del Capitano, the Palazzo Vescovile, the Palazzo degli Uberti, the Castle of St. George, the Palazzo Castiglioni (or Palazzo Bonacolsi), the Tower of the Gabbia, and the Palazzo del Podestà, all of which are examples of a unique patrimony in patrician buildings and in Italian architecture . However, the most important testimony to this skill is undoubtedly the Palazzo Te.
Palazzo del Te (1525-1535) is a creation of Giulio Romano (who lived in Mantua in his final years), meant as the residential villa of Frederick II of Gonzaga , in the style of mature Renaissance and with some hints of a certain post-Raphaelian mannerism. It hosts the Museo Civico (with the donations of Arnoldo Mondadori , the most important Italian publisher, and Ugo Sissa , a Mantuan architect who worked in Iraq from where he brought back important Mesopotamian artworks).
Austria conquered Mantua after the fall of the Gonzaga (of this period are the Royal Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts and the Scientific Theatre), then the town passed under Napoleon's domain, and was later incorporated in a united Italy by the king of Sardinia.
Its patron saint is Anselm of Lucca, the Younger .
It is the home of Viadana Rugby.