Urbino’s great architectural masterpiece, the 15th-century Palazzo Ducale provides the monumental setting for the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche and its stunning collection of Renaissance art. The palace’s cavernous halls are lined with paintings by the likes of Titian, Signorelli, Guido Reni and Piero della Francesca, whose intriguing Flagellazione di Cristo (Flagellation of Christ) hangs in what was once the Duke of Urbino’s library. Other highlights include Raphael’s enigmatic La Muta (Portrait of a Young Woman) and Luciano Laurana’s Città Ideale (Ideal City).
The main part of the collection is displayed on the piano nobile (literally 'noble floor'), accessible via a grand staircase from the inner courtyard, the Cortile d’Onore. Works are hung in a seemingly endless series of rooms culminating in the immense Salone del Trono, a vast 35m-long and 17m-high space that served as the banqueting hall for Federico da Montefeltro, the powerful duke who had the palace built in the 1450s.
The duke, under whom Urbino became an important Renaissance centre, enlisted the foremost artists and architects of the age to create his showpiece residence. For the best views of the complex, head to Corso Garibaldi and look up at the Facciata dei Torricini, the building's signature facade with its trio of arched loggias and two circular towers.