The magic symbolism of Ferrara

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Urban planning and sacred geometry


The expansion of the urban structure, known as Herculean Addition, was commissioned by Ercole I d’Este to confer a greater magnificence to the city, like the other European capitals. The project of the architect Biagio Rossetti was realized between the end of the 15th century and the start of the following century. Probably, its principles aimed at obtaining a better efficiency of the city services. Further, a decentralization with respect to the central core of Ferrara, represented by the Este Castle, was improved. Moreover, the defensive system needed to be reinforced because of its weakening due to the Venetians’ siege of 1484. Nevertheless, someone supposes the use of other guidelines, secretly adopted for the village expansion. 



The guidelines are probably numerological and sacred geometry criteria, which could raise Ferrara as an example of applied symbology. Perhaps, the city plan had a pentagonal shape, although today it is not visible, caused to the subsequent rearrangements. The planning provided the existence of two main roads, today called Corso Ercole I d’Este and Corso Biagio Rossetti. At the intersection of the two streets there is the so called Quadrivio degli Angeli, where some important Renaissance palaces overlook it. 


The Palazzo dei Diamanti

Among them, the Palazzo dei Diamanti ideally represents the cornestone of the Ferrara sacred geometry and, through the motifs of its facade (with sharp bulges) recalls the map of the city. 


The Palazzo dei Diamanti. To be noted the sharp bulges of the facade


The Palazzo dei Diamanti is also the protagonist of a curious Ferrara legend. It is told that Ercole I d’Este hid a real diamond in one of the 10000 sharp bulges of the external perimeter. The only caretaker of this dangerous secret was the reliable foreman of his court. However, because prudence is not enough, Ercole I decided to make him cutting the tongue and take out the eyes; in this way, the mystery of the diamond location remains unchanged still today. 


Samuele Corrente Naso

(Translation by Daniela Campus)




[1] Photograph by Mike Peel ( [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons [2] Photograph by Mike Peel ( [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons [3] Capone Ferrari Bianca, Imperio Loredana, Valentini Enzo Guida all’Italia dei templari. Gli insediamenti templari in Italia Roma 1997 Edizioni Mediterranee [4] By Nicola Quirico [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons