The 'Palazzo della Consulta'


Article 1 of Law No. 265 of March 18, 1958 provides that "the palazzo della Consulta in Rome, marked by the boundaries of the Piazza del Quirinale, vicolo del Mazzarino and Via della Consulta, including its accessories, appurtenances, and furniture is designated as the permanent seat of the Constitutional Court".
The construction of the 'Fabbrica della Sagra Consulta' on the Quirinal Hill (also known as Montecavallo) occurred, upon instructions by Pope Clement XII (Corsini) in the years 1732-1737, and was designed by the florentine architect Ferdinando Fuga. Fuga constructed a public building to host the congregation of the Sacra Consulta and the Segnatura dei Brevi, as well as the Cavalleggeri (the pope's guards on horseback) and the Corazze (foot soldiers in charge of escorting the Pope's carriage).
The construction of the Palazzo caused the complete demolition of the foundations of an earlier palazzetto and of the Roman ruins of the Constantine baths. A series of specialized building techniques became necessary due to the unstable nature of the underlying terrain marked by water infiltrations. Fuga consolidated the building's foundations by planting large pillars and building thick walls in its underground held together by chains.
In the Napoleonic period, the Palazzo della Consulta was the seat of the Prefettura del Tevere and in 1848 of the Government of the Second Roman Republic.
With the annexation of Rome to Italy in 1870 the Palazzo della Consulta became part of the State's public property. Due to its closeness to the Palazzo del Quirinale it first became the residence of the hereditary princes. Found unfit for such purposes it became the seat of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1874.
In 1924 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was transferred to Palazzo Chigi. The Palazzo della Consulta thus became the seat of the Ministry of Colonies (as of 1937 the Ministry of the 'Italian Africa') until its suppression in 1953.
In 1955 it became the seat of the Constitutional Court. The first public hearing of the Court (April 23, 1956) was held in a room on the piano nobile.

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