The Palace was commissioned by Cardinal Borromeo between 1562 and 1563 and designed by architect Antonio Morandi, known as Terribilia. It housed the University lecture halls (Law and Arts) and was the seat of the University until 1803. In 1838, it became home to the Municipal Library.
The palace was heavily damaged by a bombing in 1944 and subsequently rebuilt. The main façade features a two-storey arcade with 30 archways surrounding a central courtyard.
Two grand staircases lead to the upper storey, which features classrooms (closed to the public) and two great halls - one for Artists (now Reading rooms) and one for Jurists (called Stabat Mater Hall).
The walls, staircase vaults and open galleries are decorated with commemorative inscriptions and monuments dedicated to the Studio teachers as well as with thousands of coats-of-arms and student names. The chapel of S. Maria dei Bulgari can be found opposite the entrance.
The Anatomical Theatre, made of carved wood, was built by Antonio Levante in 1637 to carry out anatomy lessons. The famous statues of the Spellati (Skinless) by Ercole Lelli are displayed there.
Download the free audio guide:
The Classic Itinerary: The emotion of the city landmarks