The city of Urbino is located on the gentle hills of the Marche that overlook the Adriatic Sea, inland from Pesaro. The city experienced a great cultural flowering in the 15th century thanks to the patronage of Federico di Montefeltro and his son Guidobaldo, transforming itself from a medieval village to a splendid princely court and center of attraction for Italian and foreign artists and scholars, including Piero della Francesca, Leon Battista Alberti, Paolo Uccello, Baldassarre Castiglione and Pietro Bembo. In the vital and stimulating atmosphere of the ducal court, which influenced the rest of Europe, Bramante and Raffaello, born in Urbino on March 28, 1483, also completed their first training.
The economic and cultural stagnation that struck the city since the 16th century, when the court of della Rovere, lords of Urbino from 1508, moved to Pesaro, has also allowed it to reach us intact in appearance for representing the culmination of Renaissance art and architecture, a truly exceptional place in which the physical environment is perfectly adapted to its medieval past.
The Historic Center of Urbino, which has an area of just over a square kilometer, is enclosed within bastion walls and is entirely built in fired bricks. It is characterized by two main road axes and almost perpendicular to each other that meet in the main square and a dense urban plot in which winding streets, ups and downs and alleys, stairways and underpasses, palaces and churches that form, thanks to the surrounding landscape, a beautiful scenery.
The Palazzo Ducale, now home to the National Gallery of the Marches, is one of the most important masterpieces of Renaissance art and joins with the surrounding city giving rise to the development of a "City in the form of a palace", as defined by Baldassare Castiglione. It housed a magnificent collection of works of art, currently exhibited partly in the halls of the Palace and partly in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and an exceptional library with almost a thousand precious illuminated codices, later purchased by the Vatican Library. All these works of art were the result of the commission of Federico da Montefeltro, who governed Urbino from 1444 to 1482 and embodied the perfect example of an enlightened prince: skilled leader, cultist and protector of the arts, shrewd politician, refined collector, humanist passionate about geometry and mathematics. Federico's son, Guidobaldo I da Montefeltro, is responsible for the foundation of the University of Urbino in 1506.
The intensity of the experiences and the quality of the opportunities offered by the Urbino court between the fourteenth and the sixteenth century to the artists of the time fueled the formation of the myth of Renaissance Urbino, as an ideal city and supreme example of the Italian courts. It is no coincidence that "The Ideal City", a painting well known all over the world, is located in Urbino, in the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, and is considered the symbol of the Renaissance. The table, by an unknown artist, represents the perspective view of a deserted Renaissance square in the distance, in the distance, of a gentle hilly landscape. The table depicts the perfect image of the ideal city, fruit of geometric rationality, of proportion, of measure, where beauty and order reign. It embodies the good governance of Frederick, the root of his politics, in which the prudence, the magnificence, the justice of the prince is associated with the wisdom of the learned of which he surrounds himself.
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