The Palaces of Photography

Many of Photofestival’s exhibitions are housed in four prestigious Milanese buildings that have been renamed “The Palaces of Photography”


Photofestival Milano - Palazzo CastiglioniPhotofestival Milano - Palazzo Castiglioni


Corso Venezia, 47

In 1900 the entrepreneur Ermenegildo Castiglioni decided to build a palace in Corso Venezia in Milan. Wanting it to be different from all the others, he commissioned the design to architect Giuseppe Sommaruga, known for having come up with several interesting solutions.

The owner’s attitude, almost akin to that of a nobleman of the seventeenth century wanting to make his greatness manifest, is reflected both in the palace itself (particularly impressive when compared to the rest of Italian Art Nouveau’s offerings) and in the desire to create a building of a style quite new to Italy, in a context amongst the most “noble” of the city.

At the inauguration, public opinion strongly sided against the presence of two female figures placed above the entrance portal, and obtained to have them removed. The two statues, works by Ernesto Bazzaro, aroused scandal for being too provocative and naked, while their symbolic meaning was deemed incomprehensible (in fact one represented Peace and the other Industry). The portal, left without these two important elements, had to be changed: it was raised to occupy part of the window above, the remaining section of which was then covered by a bas-relief. The end result removed power from the central element of the building, the portal and the group of the main-floor windows above it, and emphasis shifted to the service side-portal, which is enriched at the top by a beautiful three-part window.



Corso Venezia, 51

The palace was built in the second half of the eighteenth century in the neoclassical style by architect Felice Soave (1749-1803) for Count Giovanni Bovara, Professor at the University of Pavia and Minister for Religious Affairs of the Kingdom of Italy. The building is famous for having housed the French embassy in Milan during the Napoleonic period, hosting the likes of Stendhal during that time.
Palazzo Bovara, while simple in architecture, possesses many features of the Milanese neoclassical style: the entrance portal is centered on the facade of the building and enclosed between two Doric columns surmounted by the balustraded balcony of the main floor. The decorations of the windows, though still quite austere, are more conspicuous on the main floor, where they are adorned with alternating triangular and curved pediments. The façade is enclosed in an ashlar frame which, like all other decorations, is made of sandstone. The building, which owed its fame mainly to its garden that used to be much larger than the current one, was restored by Pietro Portaluppi (1888-1962) following the damage suffered during the last World War.

Photofestival Milano - Palazzo BovaraPhotofestival Milano - Palazzo Bovara


Photofestival Milano - Palazzo TuratiPhotofestival Milano - Palazzo Turati


Via Meravigli, 7

The palace was commissioned by Francesco and Emilio Turati, Lombard cotton traders. The building, at the behest of the brothers, was designed by architect Enrico Combi, taking inspiration from Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara. The project was completed in 1876. The façade, in a decidedly neo-Renaissance style, is thus immediately recognizable from the particular form of diamond-shaped ashlar, (in imitation of that of Biagio Rossetti in Ferrara), which covers the entire building except for the ‘Serlian’ windows, pilasters and balconies with large windows (also ‘Serlian’), crowned by a decorated pediment; inside there is an arcaded courtyard inspired by the shapes of the Lombard Renaissance.

The interiors are very rich, notably: the “Flora Room”, also known as the blue sitting room, upholstered in silk velvet, with mirrors, decorations and sculptures by Lodovico Pogliaghi and frescoes by Mosè Bianchi; The “Prometheus Hall”, so called for the large fireplace topped by a neo-Renaissance sculpture of Prometheus by Lodovico Pogliaghi; and the “Grand Ballroom” frescoed on the walls with “The Dance” by Giuseppe Bertini, and on the ceiling by Luigi Cavenaghi. The palace hosted, throughout the twentieth century, the headquarters of the Famiglia Meneghina, a famous Milanese members’ club.


Photofestival Milano - Palazzo dei Giureconsulti Photofestival Milano - Palazzo dei Giureconsulti


Piazza dei Mercanti, 2

The construction of the Palace of Giureconsulti was commissioned and financed by the Milanese nobleman Giovanni Angelo Medici, who became Pope with the name of Pius IV, to accommodate the “Collegio dei Nobili Dottori”, the College of people who were in charge of city management . Construction started in 1562, following the design of Vincenzo Seregni, in the same place where once had stood the Palace of Notaries, incorporating the Napo Torriani tower, which became a civic tower.

The new building entirely bordered one of the four sides of Piazza dei Mercanti, at the center of which the Palazzo della Ragione can still be found.
The broad mannerist front, surmounted by the clock tower, is marked by the harmony of the double columns of the majestic arched porch, which can be accessed with a few steps that climb from the street level.

The rhythm of the façade is enhanced by the correspondence between the arches of the arcade on the ground floor and the upper level rectangular windows, decorated with grace and elegance.
During the Renaissance, the building housed the College of Noble Doctors, an institution that brought together the administrative figures of the state (senators, judges, justice captains). From the nineteenth century it became headquarters of the Stock Exchange, then of the Telegraph, then of the Banca Popolare di Milano and finally of the Chamber of Commerce, which in 1911 bought the entire building and has since then owned it.