Acquired by the Normale in 1968 and restructured in the 1970s, Palazzo dell’Orologio has been the site of the library since 1982.
The two main structures, connected from the beginning by a vault, already existed in the Middle Ages. To the left there was the tower-house called the Palazzotto della Giustizia or del Capitano, the ancient seat of the magistrates of Pisa; to the right there was the tower, called dei Gualandi or “moulting”, this name signifying the figurative “changing of the feathers” of the eagle, symbol of the power of Pisa. But the tower was first and foremost known as the Torre della Fame because of the tragic death there of Count Ugolino, which is recounted in Canto XXXIII of Dante's Inferno.
The building took on its coherent form in the period 1605-1608: the two parts of the building were connected by a passageway over the vault, and the façade was decorated with frescoes by Giovanni Stefano Maruscelli and Filippo and Lorenzo Paladini.
In 1696 the small bell tower was added, accentuating the vertical axis of the building and concealing the original irregularities.
In 1919, the building was restored once again, with the addition of the four neo-medieval lancet windows on the left side of the façade.
The ground floor of the Palazzo dell’Orologio houses the “Torre del Conte Ugolino” museum.
An underground tunnel still connects Palazzo dell’Orologio with Palazzo della Carovana.