Torre della Gabbia (Tower Cage) – Mantua, Italy - Atlas Obscura

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Torre della Gabbia (Tower Cage)

A medieval tower with a suspended iron cage used as an open-air jail for criminals who were exposed as a warning. 


This tower was constructed in 1281 by the Acerbi family for private purposes then sold to the Bonacolsi family. 

In 1328, the Bonacolsi family were defeated by the Gonzaga family who took control of the city. The tower was left to slowly decay.

In 1576, Duke Guglielmo Gonzaga decided to use the tower as an open-air jail. He constructed an iron cage intended to expose criminals as a warning to the public. In 1798, the municipality asked the owner to destroy the cage as a symbol of tyranny. The cage was kept as an oddity and was never destroyed. 

The tower was purchased by a senator in 1850, later he donated it to the municipality. The tower was damaged in a 2012 earthquake, but was eventually restored by the municipality. 

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