Majestic Gran Guardia Palace | Verona

Majestic Gran Guardia Palace | Palazzo della Gran Guardia | Verona

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Located in the historic centre of Verona, and next to the welcoming medieval gates of I Portoni della Brà, sits the majestic Renaissance Gran Guardia Palace | Palazzo della Gran Guardia. The Gran Guardia Palace is one of Verona’s most important historic buildings. It had been used for various military purposes over the centuries. However, today it is home to exhibitions and cultural events.

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The majestic Gran Guardia Palace is located on the south-side of Piazza Brà – you can’t miss it!

An overview of Gran Guardia Palace | Palazzo della Gran Guardia

This monumental building was designed by architect Domenico Curtoni and construction began in 1610. It’s intended use was for military purposes. To this end a large porch was included in the design where military troops could be reviewed during inclement weather.

However, the work was suspended for a very long time due to economic constraints that Verona municipality had to endure. Work resumed in 1820, under the then architect, Giuseppe Barbieri. The building was completed in 1853. The palace also served as temporary housing for the Austrian military during Italy’s first struggle for independence in 1848.

The impressive Gran Guardia Palace is arranged over two-floors and an attic. The length of the building is eighty-six meters.

If you would like to include the Gran Guardia Palace in your itinerary, here’s what to expect when you visit:

Info: Giuseppe Barbieri was also the architect for Verona’s Town Hall building which is aptly named in honour of him, Palazzo Barbieri. Palazzo Barbieri sits alongside the Verona Arena on the eastern side of Piazza Brà.

What to see in Gran Guardia Palace

Officially classified as Renaissance, the facade of this impressive building showcases a combination of two different historical periods namely Baroque and Neoclassical.

The ground floor consists of thirteen majestic arches in sturdy rusticated ashlar masonry. Each arch is a diameter of three-and-half meters. These arches mirror those of the Roman amphitheatre.

Over the floors of this beautiful Renaissance building are large rectangular windows separated by paired Doric half-columns. These offer simple openings of modest size.

The stone stairway leads to the broad and grand porch of the attic. Supported by twelve pillars with full centre arches there are five grand arched windows here – sort of a crown placed on this majestic building.

Palazzo della Gran Guardia is home to prestigious exhibitions. It is open to the public only for exhibitions or other events like art shows and Vinitaly, Verona’s wine conference. The exhibitions and art shows are arranged on various floors. The rooms have varying capacities

Practical information on Gran Guardia Palace and immediate surrounds

Visiting hours

Although the Gran Guardia does not hold scheduled visiting hours, its full calendar of events means it is open to the public almost daily throughout the year.

Address: Piazza Bra, 1, 37121 Verona VR, Italy

Opening hours: 

Tuesday (Republic Day)9:30 am – 8:30 pm; Hours might differ
Wednesday9:30 am – 8:30 pm
Thursday9:30 am – 8:30 pm
Friday9:30 am – 10:30 pm
Saturday9:30 am – 8:30 pm
Sunday9:30 am – 8:30 pm
Monday9:30 am – 8:30 pm
*Hours are subject to change. Please check events and exhibitions closer to your time of travel.

Phone: +39 045 803 3400


Basic information about Piazza Bra when visiting Gran Guardia Palace

Piazza Brà is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful squares in the world! The heart of the city of Verona and a public square, it is open 24-hours a day. A complete pedestrianised area, it’s a safe place to stroll with young children without concerns for traffic. The square is lined with bustling cafés and restaurants, and is a good place to stop for a meal or snack.

Learn more on Piazza Brà which has all the information you need for your visit.

How to get to Piazza Bra

Verona is a major city in the Italian region of Veneto, and well connected by train to Milan, Florence, Venice and the rest of Italy.

The Piazza is in the city’s historic center, a short walk from the main train station.

Places to stay in Verona near Piazza Bra

For more choices on incredible places to stay, navigate to > Top 7 best places to stay in Verona

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Fun ways to experience Verona

The best way to explore and discover Verona, also popularly known as the City of Love is to join a couple of guided tours. The guided walking tours or the bike tours will cover the highlights of the City of VeronaArena, Piazza Bra, Casa di Giulietta, Gran Guardia and so much more.

If you want to take a break from the norms of sightseeing monuments (nothing wrong in this, Verona’s buildings and architecture are absolutely stunning) and experience something different, I highly recommend going on a Wine Tasting tour as the Veneto region is famous for its Amarone, Recioto, Soave, Prosecco, Valpolicella and Bardolino.

Peruse all unique experiences in the City of Verona

Exploring Verona on foot with a tour guide requires a bit of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and clothing.

Explore the Veneto region

Make time to explore the Veneto region – bask in the Italian wine culture, admire the scenic rolling hills and be encapsulated with the citrus scents of green apple, gentle peach and white flowers aromas.

Sirmione and Lake Garda is an easy destination from Verona and a popular one for visitors to this region. Studded with pretty harbour towns along the shores of Garda and the narrow cobbled streets together with a 13th century castle in Sirmione makes this half day trip a top activity.


Finally…

My sincere wish is that this post is valuable to you in planning your visits to Gran Guardia Palace and wider Verona. If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. Also, use the links to book your place to stay and activities to do. The suppliers are credible and you benefit from special deals as well. TTS values your support as we earn a commission from qualified bookings and purchases which are at no cost to you at all.

Have a splendid time exploring Verona and the Gran Guardia!

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Piazza Bra | Verona | Best 7 experiences!

Piazza Bra | Verona | Best 7 experiences!

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Located within the gates of Verona is one of the largest piazza in Europe. Piazza Bra welcomes visitors both day and night to indulge in a little Veronese culture. Marvel at the historic Roman Arena, grab a cup of espresso and happily people-watch while not missing on the beautiful attractions that are dotted around the expansive square.

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Timeless Travel Steps BEST TIPS:

1 | Want to learn all about the city that drips in old time romance? Discover its history at every turn – hear it first-hand from a local and you are sure to want to delve deeper.

2 | Why not go a little further with our Best Seller? Discover Verona Food and Wine while seeing all the Highlights and Landmarks of the city, in half-a-day or so led by an expert.

Piazza Bra Verona

Simply known as Bra, Piazza Bra is the main square and heart of life in Verona. It is one of the largest squares in Italy as well as in Europe. Located inside the City’s gates, Piazza Bra is a beautiful and an expansive square. It’s like a huge arrival hall from whence you get to various places and attractions. The pink marble liston is perfect for a stroll. Bra is also a destination for to observe and people-watch over a cup of coffee. Enjoy a meal at one of the al frescoes restaurants that are lined alongside prominent historic buildings from medieval times to present day.

The square is a frequent stop on guided walking or bike tours of the city.


Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips: Piazza Bra

With the Verona City Card, you will gain Priority Entry to the Verona Arena and the Lamberti Tower along with entry to museums as well as free local transportation – these and so many other benefits. Explore more and pre-purchase before travelling to Verona > Verona City Card.


Piazza Bra – An overview of the development of a “square”

Portoni del Bra Archway, Verona
Portoni del Bra Archway, Verona

The word “Bra” has its origins in German from the word “breit” which means “broad“. It began to be defined as a “square” in the mid sixteenth century.

The Palace of Honours was built by architect Michele Sammicheli on the west of the Square with the purpose of limiting the perimeter of the square from future expansion. On the southern side, the Grand Guardia Palace was constructed and you will also find Portoni del Bra archway which encloses the south. Then in the nineteenth century, Palazzo Barbieri, the neoclassical City Hall was constructed alongside the Arena on the eastern side of the Square, with the Arena on the north of the square.

The Square was paved off completely with pink marble from the Valpolicella region in 1782.

Piazza Bra – Historical use of the Square

A notable use of the square was in the mid twelfth century as a “livestock” market. Along with it, the Bra was also used for wood, hay and straw.

Piazza Bra is no stranger to the ancient custom of holding a fair. The one that had survived through the centuries to today is the fair of St Lucy. The fair of St Lucy takes place each year between 11th and 13th December.

7 popular attractions at Piazza Bra not to miss

This beautiful and expansive square in the heart of Verona has several historic buildings, gardens, and fountains. Here are the popular attractions which you may want experience:

1 | Verona Arena

Verona Arena is the largest open air amphitheatre in the world. It was built in the first century, survived two earthquakes and all the challenges throughout its 2000 years. It is a true marvel that it is standing in all its glory. Today, the Arena hosts musical events and their popular annual summer Opera evenings. A visit to the Arena is highly recommended. You could also peruse and book to join Verona Arena Skip-the-Line Guided Tour. A tour is an opportunity to learn of its long history and marvel at this ancient architecture from within its arched walls.

Read: The Complete Guide to the Verona Arena includes tips on how to get ticket for the Opera.

2 | Gran Guardia Palace

Palazzo Gran Guardia is one of Verona’s most impressive of historic buildings. It was designed by Domenico Curtoni and construction began in early seventeenth century. However it took over a hundred years to complete, in the mid nineteenth century by Giuseppe Barbieri. The Gran Guardia is an impressive building with stone stairway, grand porch, pillars and arched windows.

Read: The Majestic Gran Guardia, Verona

3 | Portoni della Bra

A beautiful piece of architecture and the gateway to the old city, I Portoni della Bra are the two arches on the south side of the square. It has a clock in the centre and on both sides of the arches. It was built by Gian Galeazzo Visconti in late fourteenth century.

4 | Palazzo Barbieri

Palazzo Barbieri sits on the eastern side of Bra. It is of a Neoclassical architecture built in the nineteenth century. This building was designed by Giuseppe Barbieri. Formerly known as Palazzo della Gran Guardia Nuova but was later named Palazzo Barbieri in honour of Giuseppe Barbieri. It has been home to the offices of the municipal administrations since 1869. In the 1940s, the interior of the City Hall was destroyed by fire. This led to internal modifications, rebuilt by adding the rear and the semi-circular wing.

5 | Fontana delle Alpi – At the centre of Piazza Bra

This fountain is in a small park in the centre of Piazza Bra. It offers a pleasant shady area to walk or to take a break from walking. The Veronese refer to Fontana delle Alpi as a “Lemon Squeezer” (struca limoni) because of its shape.

6 | The Statue of King Vittorio Emanuele II – at the centre of the park in Piazza Bra

An equestrian statue of Vittorio Emanuele II, the first ruler of unified Italy dominates the centre of the park in Piazza Bra.

7 | Museo Lapidario Maffeiano – an archaeological museum

The Museo Lapidario Maffeiano in Piazza Bra was constructed in the middle pf eighteenth century and inextricably tied to Marquess Scipione Maffei (1675-1755). Maffei spent thirty-years collecting hundreds and hundreds of inscriptions. He made his collection displayed to the public, believing that “what is useful to the public must become public domain”. The collection includes 650 findings.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8.30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
closed on Mondays


Practical information on Piazza Bra

1 | Location of Piazza Bra and all attractions listed in this post

Piazza Bra is located at: Piazza Bra, 37121, Verona Italy

Here is a map on the locations of the places listed in this post so you can easily locate them when you visit.

2 | Basics about the Bra that you need to know

i | Piazza Bra is a pedestrian square, so it is a safe place to stroll with young children;

ii | The Bra is a public square and is open twenty-four hours. Cafes and restaurants are subject to their own opening hours.

iii | The Square is lined with bustling cafes and restaurants, offering great choices of food and snacks

iv | Exploring Verona on foot with or without a tour guide requires a bit of walking. Best to use comfortable shoes, wear casual clothing and travel light;

3 | Best time to visit Piazza Bra

In any case, whether it is the peak season or the shoulder season, find yourself a seat in one of the al frescoe restaurants lined up at the Bra on early evenings. Over coffee, watch and take part in the daily passeggiata, a tradition when Italian families and groups of friends take a stroll before dinner. 

Read: People and Culture of Italy

4 | Getting to Piazza Bra

Piazza Bra is located in the center of Verona. It’s accessible on foot, by bus, taxi, or as part of a bike or Segway tour of the city center.  

Once at the square, all attractions listed here are located within walking distance.

Recommended read: Getting around Verona – public transport and best ways to explore


5 | Places to stay near Piazza Bra

The following hotels are within very close proximity of Piazza Bra and other attractions in Verona. Click on the images, peruse and book your stay.

Read: Stay at an Awesome Place in Verona

Final thoughts on Piazza Bra

A visit to Piazza Bra in Verona and you will note that this expansive square has it all! From gardens, fountains, restaurants, street entertainers to grandeur palaces and Roman amphitheatre. A day spent here will be a day well-spent.


Hope that this post has been valuable to you in planning your visits to Piazza Bra in Verona. If so, I would love to know your experiences. Subscribe to Stay Connected with TTS for the latest on travel inspirations. As well, consider using the links embedded in this post and related posts to book your stay and/or activities. TTS earns a commission on qualifying bookings and purchases at no cost to you at all. As always, we appreciate your support.


Have a splendid time exploring Piazza Bra and Verona 🙂

Georgina xoxo


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Verona Arena | A piece of medieval marvel that can’t be missed

Verona Arena | A piece of medieval marvel that can’t be missed

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

Renowned as a Veronese monument, the Verona Arena is the oldest and the largest open-air amphitheatre in the world. This Roman marvel is impressive from all angles and it is a spot in Verona that must be experienced.

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The ancient marvel, Verona Arena was constructed in the 1st century and is one of the best preserved of its kind. It sits in Piazza Bra, dominating the heart of the city. The formidable structure looks spectacular both during the day and at night. It was once used for spectacles of gladiator fighting, now Opera performances takes place in the summer months at dusk. An absolute piece of medieval marvel that can’t be missed when visiting Verona.

Come along with me to take a very brief look at its 2000 years of history and discover ways on how you can experience this ancient monument in Verona.


We may earn a commission from affiliate links at no costs to you at all. Read our Disclaimer.


Timeless Travel Steps BEST TIPS:

1 | Want to learn all about the city that drips in old time romance? Discover its history at every turn – hear it first-hand from a local and you are sure to want to delve deeper.

2 | Why not go a little further with our Best Seller? Discover Verona Food and Wine while seeing all the Highlights and Landmarks of the city, in half-a-day or so led by an expert.


Verona Arena: An ancient monument of 2000 years of history

The 1st century amphitheatre known simply as Arena was built around 30 AD during the reign of Augustus Caesar. During his reign, the city of Verona was part of the Roman Empire’s expansion. Located between Milan and Venice together with its strategic location on the Adige River, Verona was used as a base for controlling the northern territories.

The Roman’s built Verona on an organized grid plan, with two main gates, and surrounded it with defensive walls. Bridges were built across the Adige River but most notable of their creations is an amphitheatre. Just outside of the city walls, an amphitheatre was constructed. Verona Arena.

Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips: Verona Arena

With the Verona City Card, you will gain Priority Entry to the Verona Arena and the Lamberti Tower along with entry to museums as well as free local transportation – these and so many other benefits. Explore more and pre-purchase before travelling to Verona > Verona City Card.

1 | The Romans and About the Amphitheatre

In Ancient Rome, an amphitheatre was an important structure. It was a meeting point, where the settlement gathers to watch spectacles of entertainment like a circus, a tournament or festivals. An amphitheatre kept everyone happy. Having one just outside of the city walls meant that lots more people from the neighbouring settlements and cities could come without threatening the peace of the City of Verona.

In its original architecture, the Verona Arena comprised of three tiers of arches at a height of 30 metres. The external dimensions of the structure was 152 x 123 metres. The monument was the third largest Roman amphitheatre at that time, after the Colosseum and Capua. The tiers of the amphitheatre are all made of Veronese marble, pink and white stones sourced from Valpolicella. The Verona Arena is said to have accommodated almost 30,000 spectators for festivals, circus acts, dancing and music. The theatre hosted all kinds of games and tournaments especially equestrian games. Above all, the spectacles that drew most attention were blood sports, notably the gladiator show, where two trained combatants would fight each other to death.

Later, more defense walls were built to protect the city from invaders and the amphitheatre was included inside of its walls. It was a good thing too, as all the surrounding settlements and towns were destroyed while Verona stood firm.

2 | After the Romans (500 – 1000 AD)

The Romans lost power in the 5th century. Verona was then ruled by the Goths, the Lombards and the Vatican until around 1000 AD. Buildings and monuments were added to the city century after century. The City of Verona grew but the Arena did not. Gladiator fighting was banned and the Arena stood empty for centuries.

The unused Arena was pillaged for building materials. The bricks and stones were much needed for building other structures and for Verona’s growth. Largely, the Arena stood as a free source of materials.

Timeless Travel Steps Best Tips: Verona Arena

Eat your way through the city and see all the landmarks in Verona

3 | Disaster strikes!

After surviving the screaming, stomping fans, several wars, and as a resource of building materials, the Arena was hit by a massive earthquake. On January 3, 1117 AD an earthquake rated at VII (very strong) on the Mercalli Intensity Scale struck northern Italy and Germany. The outer wall of the Arena was partially destroyed as a result. The surviving wall was later damaged in another earthquake of 1183. Only four arches of the outer wall still remains.

4 | The Scala Family – 13th to 14th century

Following the Battle of Legnano in 1176, Verona gained autonomous status. As a result, the economy boomed and the city attracted many wealthy and prominent families who invested and grew the city. Amongst them, the Scala Family, who ultimately ruled as lords of Verona from the mid 13th century through to 14th century.

With more money flowing in the economy, the Scala’s began using the Arena. It was primarily used as a public trial area, and disputes solved through combat.

5 | Verona Arena in the 15th century

However, the fighting among Verona’s wealthy families brought them all down, making it easy for the Venetian Republic to take over at the start of 15th century. Under the Venetian, new laws were passed making it illegal to vandalize the Arena. During this period, the Arena provided cheap housing for prostitutes who kept the place nice and beautiful.

6 | A market place in the 16th century

In the 16th century, the prostitutes made way for small shops, artisans, blacksmiths, hair-dressers, jewellers and mechanics. The open-air Arena became an open-air market where you could go to get your horses hoofed, buy your wife a necklace or for snacks. Essentially it was a place where you could get all your shopping done at once.

It seems that some arches still housed mechanics and other shops until the mid-20th century.

7 | Napoleon

In 1797, Napoleon took over Verona for the length of the Napoleonic Wars until the Austrians won it in 1815. Napoleon used the Arena for purposes other than culture (concentration camp for prisoners).

8 | The Arena finally finds its purpose – 1822

1822 is known as the year of the first ever Opera performance in the open-air amphitheatre. The Arena lends itself well to opera. Though it’s huge, it has remarkable acoustics – performers do not use microphones!

9 | Opera at Verona Arena – August 10, 1913

Although the opera performances began in the 1800’s the Arena was still mostly unused for almost a century. The first performance that set the start of the Opera Festival at Verona Arena was on August 10, 1913. The first performance of Aida organised by Giovanni Zenatello and Ottone Rovato to commemorate the 100th birthday of Giuseppe Verdi. 

Besides pauses during the First and Second World Wars, the Arena has been hosting summer Opera festivals ever since.


That’s just a brief history of a monument of 2000 years or so.


Verona Arena today

The Verona Arena continues to play host to a variety of cultural events. It’s famed annual summer festival of Opera performances (June to September) is well-worth a visit if you could get hold of some tickets. Take a look below.

Verona Arena Opera Festival 2021

From June 17, 2022 the Arena Opera Festival 2022 is on stage. The Opera opens with Carmen, along with many special nights during the season in the spectacular setting of the Verona amphitheatre. Tickets might be available if you are planning a visit. Take a look at the program and seat availability at the official website Arena di Verona.

Alternatively, you could purchase an Opera package here. (More on this below)

Pro tip: Verona Arena will be used as the closing ceremony for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo. If you’re a fan of winter sports, this would the perfect opportunity to see a different type of performance at the arena.

Ways to experience this ancient monument of 2000 years of history on its back

This Roman amphitheatre is every bit as impressive as it sounds and you will not be disappointed by its experience. It’s huge, different, medieval with modern adaptations but above all, the walls and passages speak of tales and mysteries which can only be imagined.

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Inside Verona Arena

There are three ways to experience this piece of medieval marvel:

1 | Arena di Verona Opera Package Ticket

Pick up this opera evening package and enjoy a lovely evening at the open-air amphitheatre where Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas, and many other tenors and sopranos from all over the world have had the pleasure of singing and performing. I can only imagine it to be one of the best experiences that one could have.

Simply exchange your voucher at gate 16 of the Arena between 5:45 PM to 8:45 PM (desk Montebaldo) any day that an opera is playing. In your package, you will receive a ticket for the opera, a 1-hour Verona city guide (starting at 6:00 PM), a transport-service ticket, as well as all the assistance you may need for a perfect experience in the city. 

2 | Verona Card

You can purchase a Verona Card for 24 or 48 hours and explore the City at your own pace. The Verona Card gives you skip-the-line priority access to the Verona Arena and other monuments as well. You have unlimited access to the ATV transport system. Personally, I find the Verona Card to be a bargain. You can peruse further of what it offers and buy it here.

3 | Guided Tour of Verona Arena

If you want to learn more about this monument from an expert, then join a guided tour. This guided tour is with a licensed guide and lasts half-an-hour with priority access. Hear about the famous operas and some of the stories that took place behind the walls.


Practical information for when visiting Verona Arena

Spectators with limited mobility or disability can have access to some seats in the stalls or the numbered stone steps at a special rate, along with the person accompanying you. Medical proof is required. Go to this page for a full guide on Spectators with Disabilities.

If your ticket is for a stone step seat, it is best to wear long (trousers) or long skirts to cover your legs, to avoid bruises or discomfort. Bring a cushion along and water/snacks.

Location: Piazza Bra 1, 37121, Verona Italy | Tel: +39 045 800 5151 | Nearest station: Verona Porta Nuova Station


My thoughts…

Verona is known as the City of Opera because of the ancient marvel, Arena. It is one of the most astonishingly preserved monument in the world. While we cannot watch gladiator fights or get the horses hoofed, we can certainly spend hours exploring or just sitting in the gallery to feel how it must have been way back then to witness any of the spectacles.

I sincerely hope that a visit to this medieval marvel will cement a perfect vacation to Verona.


Now, it’s your turn 🙂

What do you think? Is this post valuable to you in planning your visit to the Verona Arena? Have I missed anything that ought to be included? If so please let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you. As well, if you’d found any of the suggestions useful, do use the links to book your stay, activities and anything else as this will help TTS earn a commission on qualifying bookings at no cost to you at all. As always, we at TTS appreciate your support.

Stay Connected with TTS for the latest on travel news and more straight to your inbox.

Have a splendid time exploring Verona Arena!

Georgina xx

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