The palace of the Popes (Palazzo dei Papi ) in Viterbo is a historic building that has become the symbol ofViterbo. Located in the heart of the medieval quarter of the city, it is the show piece of the elegant Piazza San Lorenzo.In addition to the Palazzo dei Papi, the square showcases the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and other historic buildings.
You can reach the Palazzo dei Papi via a lift that goes up from the Faul Valley or along the streets of the historic center and crossing the Ponte del Duomo. The Palazzo dei Papi dates back to 1257 when Pope Alexander IV decided to transfer the seat of the Papal Curia from Rome to Viterbo. He wanted to ensure that the Popes were protected.
The Palazzo dei Papi was an extension of the Episcopal Curia, commissioned by the Captain of the People, Raniero Gatti. During the interventions a large hall was also built for the audiences, which then took the name of “Sala del Conclave”. This name derives from one of the most important episodes in the history of the Papal States; namely the longest Conclave (election of a Pope)in history.
When Gregory X was made Pope it took the cardinals 33 months to select a Pope. The exasperated people of Viterbo decided to separate the cardinals inside the Palazzo dei Papi (clausi cum clave). But the Conclave continued and the inhabitants of Viterbo decided to drastically reduce their food, and finally even uncovered the roof of the Palazzo dei Papi itself.The majestic Sala del Conclave is illuminated by 12 double lancet windows.