The city of Mantua is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes dating back to the 12th century. There used to be a fourth lake giving the city a great natural defence but that dried up at the end of the 18th century. The three remaining lakes are known as upper, middle and lower Lakes. The lakes are fed water from the river mincio which starts at lake Garda. Mantua was one of the greatest renaissance courts in Europe. It was the home of the wealthy Gonzaga family. The town’s centre is made up of three large squares that join together making them a lively place. (Sordello Square, Broletto Square and Herbs Square.) Mantua was voted as the most livable city in Italy in 2005. The criteria of this award is based on green space, air quality, public transport and traffic. Palazzo Ducale – Ducal Palace The Ducal Palace has a large complex of buildings, squares, courtyards and gardens. Once the main residence of the Gonzaga family, lords, marquises and dukes of the city. The palace was built in different times starting from the 13th century through to mid 16th century. The Palazzo del Capitano is the oldest part of the palace St George’s Castle The castle was built between 1395 and 1406 by Francesco Gonzaga. The castle is a square shape building with four angular towers surrounded by moat, three gates and and drawbridges. The castle was originally built to defend the city but after renovatiion in 1459 it became the residence of the Gonzaga family. Te Palace - Palazzo Te Palazzo Te is one of the most beautiful villas in Italy. It was built by Giulio Romano between 1525 and and 1535 for Federico II Gonzaga as a suburban residence. Palazzo Te is now home of the civic museum. St Andrews Church The dome of St Andrews church is symbol ofMantua and can be seen from a great distance. The church is one of the most important churches throughout the Christian world for keeping the relic of blood of Christ. The relic is kept in a crypt under the dome and can only be seen once a year in the holy procession which takes place in the streets on Good Friday. The Church also holds the tomb of painter Andrea Mantegna. The Rotonda of San Lorenzo The Rotonda is the oldest church in Mantua and was built in 1082. It is believed to be on the site of a roman temple. Merchants House The merchants house is located in the corner of Herbs Square. A very colourful Venetian style house built in 1455. At the back of the house, a small tower known as Torre Di Salaro was used to store salt.