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The castle under Ercole II

Ercole II, the son of Alfonso I and Lucrezia Borgia, continued the work of improving the castle, which bore the strong signs of his father, with refinement and sensibility.

He had several rooms decorated with paintings and frescoes, both to complete the decorative cycles set out by Alfonso and also to his own original ideas. The chief artists involved were Tommaso da Carpi, Battista Dossi, Tommaso da Treviso, il Garofalo, Camillo Filippi and Girolamo da Carpi. In particular, Ercole II turned his attention to sectors of the building dedicated to a new high-ranking residential and representative function, the rooms of the south wing, in particular the Salone del Governo (Government Room) and the apartment of Santa Caterina Tower, which became the object of a decorative cycle which was hinged on the so-called Camera della Pazienza with excellent works by Camillo Filippi and Girolamo da Carpi.
In 1554, a big fire caused serious damage to the more than half of the castle, especially the top floors from the Marchesana Tower to the Torre dei Leoni and Santa Caterina Tower.
The event induced the duke and his court architect to intervene not only to simply rebuild the upper floors and the lost or damaged roofs but also to make changes to the architectural appearance of the castle. So, given that the rooms of the piano nobile were already turned over to residential use, he went ahead with a complete redesign of the building's exterior and changed its style into something we may consider to be very close to the monument's current appearance.

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