In the heart of the Italian Riviera, the medieval port town of Genoa is famous not only as the birthplace of Christopher Columbus, but also for its regal heritage. Here are our picks for the city’s must-see palaces.
Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, 9, 16123 Genova GE, Italy, Genova, Italy, 16123
Rebuilt and refurbished many times due to fires, expansions, and restorations, Palazzo Ducale serves as a lavish event space and houses civil offices as it has for centuries. The opulent palace has marble columns, beautiful sculptures, and restored 17th-century Giovanni Battista Carlone frescoes that depict prominent Genoese including Christopher Columbus.
To explore the palace’s interior, visitors may attend one of the art exhibits, conferences, meetings, or concerts hosted here throughout the year. Hop-on hop-off bus tours of Genoa pass by Palazzo Ducale, as well as city landmarks such as the Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo).
Things to Know Before You Go
Palazzo Ducale is a must-visit for architecture lovers and Italian history buffs.
The palace is entirely wheelchair accessible and has an accessible entrance at Piazza de Ferrari.
An on-site café/bistro serves meals, coffee, and aperitifs.
How to Get There
Palazzo Ducale is located at Piazza Giacomo Matteotti 9, next to Piazza de Ferrari, the city’s bustling main square best known for its three-tiered circular fountain. Many visitors reach the Doge’s Palace on foot while strolling Genoa’s historical core, and it’s also easily accessible by public transit—the de Ferrari metro stop is directly in front of the palace.
When to Get There
Palazzo Ducale is open daily, but hours for art exhibitions and events change frequently. Visitors are advised to consult the tourist information center or stop by the Doge’s Palace itself to find out what’s on the calendar while you’re there.
The Tower of Palazzo Ducale
The original medieval core of Palazzo Ducale is its tower, also known as La Grimaldina or Torre del Popolo (People’s Tower). Built around 1298, it became a symbol of the Republic of Genoa’s political power. From the 13th century through the 1930s, the tower served as a jail for political prisoners, conspirators, anarchists, and common prisoners, including Giuseppe Garibaldi, credited with helping to unify Italy, and famed violinist Niccolò Paganini. Paintings, engravings, and etched graffiti left by the inmates can still be seen on its walls.
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- Piazza de Ferrari
- Galata Maritime Museum (Galata Museo del Mare)
- Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo)
- Via San Lorenzo
- Genoa Via Garibaldi (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi)
- Basilica of Santa Maria di Castello (Basilica di Santa Maria di Castello)
- Palazzi dei Rolli
- Palazzo Rosso
- Palazzo Bianco
- Chiossone Museum of Oriental Art (Museo d'Arte Orientale Edoardo Chiossone)
- Piazza Caricamento
- Spianata Castelletto
- Aquarium of Genoa
- La Biosfera