Just across Piazza Bra from the Arena, the majestic Gran Guardia Palace (Palazzo della Gran Guardia) is one of Verona’s most important historic buildings. Today a popular venue for exhibitions and cultural events, the palace had been used for various military purposes for centuries.
This large palace was designed in the early 17th century by Domenico Curtoni, but work was not completed until the mid-19th century under Giuseppe Barbieri. The facade combines elements of two different historical periods—baroque and neoclassical—with a row of arches on the ground floor that mirror those of the Roman amphitheater on the opposite side of the square. Originally intended as a covered space for soldiers to train in inclement weather, the palace also served as temporary housing for the Austrian military during Italy’s first struggle for independence in 1848. Palazzo della Gran Guardia is open to the public only for exhibitions or other events like art shows and Vinitaly, Verona’s wine conference.
Walking tours of Verona almost always stop in Piazza Bra to see both the Arena di Verona and the Gran Guardia Palace, with its adjacent Portoni della Bra city gate, before continuing on to nearby attractions like Piazza delle Erbe, the Castelvecchio Bridge (Ponte di Castelvecchio), and Castel San Pietro.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Piazza Bra is a pedestrian area, so it’s a safe place to stroll with young children without having to dodge traffic.
- The square is lined with bustling cafés and restaurants, and is a good place to stop for a meal or snack.
- Exploring Verona on foot with a tour guide requires a bit of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
- When it is open for events, the palazzo’s interior is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
Verona is a major city in the Italian region of Veneto, and well connected by train to Milan, Florence, and Venice. Piazza Bra is in the city’s historic center, a short walk from the main train station.
When to Get There
Though the palazzo does not hold scheduled visiting hours, its full calendar of events means it is open to the public almost daily throughout the year.
Romeo and Juliet
Verona is most famous for being the backdrop for one of the greatest love stories of all time, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. As a result, two of the city’s main attractions are Juliet’s House (Casa di Giulietta) and Romeo’s House (Casa di Romeo).