Anatomical theatre of the Archiginnasio

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thumb The Anatomical theatre of the Archiginnasio is one of the main historical rooms of the medical school in Bologna, located in the Archginnasio, the first unified seat of the University of Bologna. The palace was built quickly, between 1562 and 1563, by order of Saint Charles Borromeo, then pontifical legate in Bologna.

A first anatomical theatre was constructed in 1595, in a different location, but in 1636 it was replaced by a bigger one in the current location.

The theatre – completely made of spruce wood – underwent several modification and reached its final shape between 1733 and 1736. In this period, Silvestro Giannotti carved the wooden statues which decorate the theatre walls. They represent some famous physicians of Ancient times (Hippocrates, Galenus, etc.) and of the local athenaeum (Mondino de Liuzzi, Gasparo Tagliacozzi). The two famous statues of the “Spellati” (skinned) carrying the canopy surmounting the teacher’s chair are the work of the well-known artist of anatomical wax displays, Ercole Lelli. In the centre of the theatre stands the white table on which the dissection of human or animal bodies took place.

The theatre was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, by an air raid on January 29, 1944. After the war the Theatre was rebuilt using all of the original pieces recovered among the rubble of the building.



  • AA.VV., Il Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio a Bologna, Bologna 2005.

External links

  • Official website of the Archiginnasio Library [1]