Palazzo Estense was built in the second half of the 18th century to become the home of Francesco III d'Este, the Duke of Modena and the Governor of Lombardy. Francesco III had in fact been a guest of the Menafoglio family in Varese in 1755 and was so impressed by the city that he wanted to obtain it as a feud, which, in fact, he did.
The palace was created by restoring the Villa of Tommaso Orrigoni, demolishing part of the existing houses and significantly changing the spaces to best accommodate the court, the authorities and make them suitable for the large parties held at the palace. The project was entrusted to the architect Giuseppe Antonio Bianchi, who also supervised the construction of the splendid 18th-century garden, one of the most beautiful in the whole of Lombardy.
While the inner rooms of Palazzo Estense are all richly decorated with stucco work worthy of being called art, the beautiful Salone d'onore is most deserving of admiration. The garden, which is connected to the grounds of Villa Mirabello, is animated by lanes, flower beds and a large circular pool that is illuminated every summer during the "Sound and lights" show – a sight to be seen.
Today, Palazzo Estense houses the city administration and the public library and various rooms are used to host conferences and concerts.