Library at Visconti Castle

In 1487, Leonardo da Vinci was determined to prove himself as an architect by designing a lantern tower, otherwise known as a tiburio, for the Milan Cathedral. As he perfected his designs, he fostered friendships with two other architects, Donato Bramante and Francesco di Giorgio. 

During this period of designing Milan Cathedral’s tiburio, da Vinci and di Giorgio travelled to Pavia to consult with the architects designing and constructing a new cathedral there. It was during this trip that they discovered an Italian translated “copy of an architectural treatise by Vitruvius, a Roman military officer and engineer from the first century BC,” (Isaacson 148) in the Visconti Library in the Castle of Pavia. di Giorgio was able to use this treatise as inspiration for his own architectural treatise that he had been revising.

The architects’ collaboration on the Milan Cathedral led to one of da Vinci’s most famous works, the Vitruvian Man, a sketch which “came to symbolize the harmonious relationship between man and the universe,” (Isaacson 141). 

Source: Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 8 Vitruvian Man.” Leonardo Da Vinci: The Biography, Simon & Schuster, 2018.


Latitude: 45.257652200000
Longitude: 9.025774000000

Timeline of Events Associated with Library at Visconti Castle

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Vitruvius's de Architectura


Poggio Bracciolini's Collection of Classical Manuscripts

During the Middle Ages, Vitruvius’s de Architectura was forgotten and only rediscovered in 1414. Leonardo da Vinci’s predecessor and early Renaissance humanist, Poggio Bracciolini had included it in his collection of classical writing when he discovered it the Library at Abbey of Saint Gall in St. Gallens, Switzerland. 

The rest of his collection, which was curated from libraries all over Western Europe, include Astronomica, detailing astronomical phenomena, by Manilius, De Aquaeductu, or On Aqueducts, by Frontinus, and De Rerum Natura, or On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius.

This collection of classical writing largely influenced Renaissance thinking. Apart from de Architectura, the poem, On the Nature of Things, led to Renaissance philosophy and the knowledge-seeking ideal. The poem describes a multitude of phenomena, including that everything in the world is comprised of small particles, which we know of as atoms now.

Source: Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 8 Vitruvian Man.” Leonardo Da Vinci: The Biography, Simon & Schuster, 2018.