Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio – Bologna, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio

In the world's oldest university is a stunning 17th century anatomical theater carved from spruce. 


At the world’s oldest continuously operating university is one of the most beautiful anatomical theaters.

The Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio at the University of Bologna in Italy, founded in 1088, is completely carved from spruce with its imposing marble table still in position before the teacher’s chair. The theater was started in 1636 and completed in 1737. And although heavily damaged during World War II, it was painstakingly recreated to appear much as it did when candlelit for dissections of humans and animals alike.

Each corner of the anatomical theater is elaborately decorated. Carved sculptures of physicians like Hippocrates stand in niches, while alongside the central teacher’s chair are two “Spellati” — anatomical models with their muscles exposed. In the center of the ceiling is a carved figure of Apollo, surrounded by astrological symbols, and presiding over it all is a representation of anatomy as a woman, who is being offered a thigh bone by an angel. 

Know Before You Go

Open Monday to Friday, 10:00 to 6:00; Saturdays 10:00 to 7:00; Sundays and holidays 10:00 to 2:00.Tickets are €3 for 18 and older, free for under 18, and can be purchased at the entrance.

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