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Frederick's Library: an esoteric empire

Enjoy a return to the past with this gem inside the Ducal Palace.


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Where is


Piazza Rinascimento, 13, 61029 Urbino PU, Italia (0m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

There is a place full of mysteries waiting for you, almost lurking, on the ground floor of the Ducal Palace. After entering the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, never turn left unless you wish to be ravished! It is the Library of Federico da Montefeltro, the true cultural center of the Ducal Palace. The Duke took great pride in it, as it was famous throughout Europe for its collection of nearly a thousand hand-crafted, illuminated and illustrated volumes. Warning. To discover its secrets you must be an initiate. Someone must guide you, and that is what we are here for. Today, as you enter it may appear to you with a large empty room, but it is not so. In the Renaissance no one could remain immune to its fire. But it can happen even now, as long as you let go, ready to absorb the energy these rooms still give off. The most sensitive of you will pick it up right away: it is an unexpected thrill.

Why it is special

From the second half of the 15th century until 1657, Federico dal Montefeltro's Library housed codices, large tomes, writing objects. All expertly distributed among scans, shelves and shelves. Under the influence of Ottaviano Ubaldini della Carda all the rooms were pervaded by alchemical symbolism. Seven, eight: these were the two principle numbers of the Library; they followed one another in the arrangement of the furnishings in a mutual perpetuation of wisdom and infinity. The combination of the two elements led the visitor to unlimited knowledge. This secret concatenation between containers and contents made anyone who entered those rooms adjacent to the Courtyard of Honor sink into a dimension of almost mystical concentration.

Not to be missed

Frederick and Octavian knew that the most powerful weapons are books, speech, writing, and image: so the place that guarded them was as important as its treasure and designed accordingly. If you turn your gaze upward, as only those who dare can do, you will encounter one of the alchemical symbols par excellence: the eagle. Black, with outstretched wings and surrounded by tongues of fire, it seems to radiate a sublime power destined to reach the entire Duchy and its territory, spreading the knowledge coming from Frederick's Court.

A bit of history

As often happens in History, a boundary marks the beginning of an Era: in the case of Urbino, it bears the name of Frederick. The Duke, received as an inheritance a hundred books, the nucleus from which he set out to build his own resounding Libraria collection. His project was not lacking in audacity: of the 900 or so volumes accumulated, many were works made on commission, others gifts, some precious spoils of war.The entire collection was wisely managed by a complementary figure to that of the Prince: Ottaviano Ubaldini della Carda. Soon you will realize that the large room you have entered, adjacent to the Courtyard of Honor, is not empty. If you will be ready to "listen" to it you will discover the unique vibrations it emanates. The feelings you will have experienced inside it you will not immediately be able to describe. To talk about them. They will be yours alone, but you will no longer be able to detach yourself from them: every now and then they will come back to mind. If so: welcome! You will have begun the journey of true knowledge of the Montefeltro Court. Periodically you will find yourself searching for images, books and reminders of Frederick and Octavian.


Hidden from the eyes of the public, embedded in Octavian's private apartments, also on the first floor, there was another Library, far more obscure and intended only for a select few. Unique texts, initiatory volumes of a science still shrouded in mystery and a flavor of legend, rare writings: the esoteric library of Frederick's right-hand man is an alchemical treasure chest of precious audacity, destined, like all precious things, only for those with the tools to understand them. Here, Esotericism reaches a fulcrum of fusion with the Mathematical Renaissance.

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When the Della Rovere dynasty ended, Frederick's Library was moved to Rome, to the Vatican Library. Octavian's, on the other hand, mysteriously disappeared, as if to protect forever the secrets of its creator.