Teatro Anatomico

Historic Building in Bologna

Housed in Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio, the fascinating 17th-century Teatro Anatomico is where public body dissections were held under the sinister gaze of an Inquisition priest, ready to intervene if proceedings became too spiritually compromising. Cedar-wood tiered seats surround a central marble-topped table while a sculptured Apollo looks down from the ceiling. The canopy above the lecturer’s chair is supported by two skinless figures carved into the wood.

Down the hall, and covered by the same entrance ticket, is the Sala dello Stabat Mater, a grand former classroom that leads to a long line of 10 ancient classrooms now holding the repository of the Archiginnasio library (off limits but gorgeously visible from the roped-off doorway).