In 1200 the Municipality of Bologna expropriated several houses and churches in order to create today's Piazza Maggiore, thus laying the foundation for the first compound of palaces specifically built for public administrative functions: Palazzo del Podestà, di Re Enzo e del Capitano del Popolo.
Palazzo Re Enzo
Palazzo Re Enzo was built between 1244-46 (when also Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo was raised as an extension of the Municipal buildings. The palace was also known as 'new palace' to differentiate it from Palazzo del Podestà. Just three years later the palace became the 'residence' of the King taken prisoner in the battle of Fossalta: Re Enzo from Sardinia, son of Federico II. The king would spend here the next 23 years, until his death in 1272 (several legends were reported around his mytical figure).
On the ground floor the war equipment of the army and the Carroccio were kept and stored, while a covered staircase lead to the first floor portico where town meetings once took place. The Sala del Trecento, made by Antonio di Vincenzo in 1386, was later used as municipal archive, while the last floor underwent a thorough renovation in 1771 by G. G. Dotti. The restoration carried out in 1905 by Alfonso Rubbiani was also quite significant as his purpose was to restore the Gothic outlook of the building: he had the crenellation, the ground-floor arches and the 15th century staircase rebuilt. On the right-hand of the palace the entry to the Chapel of Santa Maria dei Carcerati can be found: there, people sentenced to death used to go and pray.