During the late Middle Ages, the Della Scala family, whose members are known as the Scaligeri, ruled not only the city of Verona, but much of its Veneto region and other territories in Northern Italy. Under the Scaligeri, 14th-century Verona had a golden age before the lords were deposed in 1387.
The Scaligeri era left an indelible mark on Verona, with many of the city’s landmarks built during their rule. One of these is the Arche Scaligere, a monumental complex of five tombs of Scaligeri rulers. The five monuments were built between the end of the 13th century and the late 14th century and are a fine example of Gothic architecture.
The larger tombs are made out of a sarcophagus raised from the ground and topped by a canopy known as a baldachin. At the very top is an equestrian statue of the relevant lord. The Gothic decorations mostly follow religious motifs but are different for each tomb and related to each of the deceased. For example, the tomb of the greatest Lord of Verona, Cangrande della Scala, is adorned with sculptures of dogs, Cangrande meaning “big dog” in Italian.
The entire complex is surrounded by a wrought iron fence decorated with a stair pattern. As Della Scala means “of the stairs” in Italian, the stair was the symbol of the family. It was used on their coat of arms and can be found all throughout the Arche Scaligere.