The Verona Cathedral is one of the most important religious buildings in the city, with witness of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic style.
The Verona Cathedral
The Verona Cathedral or Santa Maria Matricolare Cathedral is located in Duomo Square, in the historic center of Verona, surrounded by elegant buildings that seem to have almost been custom-made.
It is a very complex architectural complex, which includes the Church of Sant’Elena, the Church of San Giovanni in Fonte, the Cloister of the Canons, the Capitoline Library and the Bishopric, each of which was built in different periods.
In this area, during the Roman Empire, there were villas with a swimming pool, that is, private bathrooms and around temples for worship. Witness of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic style, today it is the main Catholic place of worship in the city and is also the episcopal see.
The first basilica was built on the area occupied today by the church of Saint Helena, in the fourth century or so, but it was soon too small, and a few decades later they built a larger structure. Traces of these two early Christian basilicas are still visible today under the church of Sant’Elena and in the Canonicale Cloister. Over the centuries the basilica suffered several damages due to various earthquakes and violent fires, which also led to the collapse of the complex.
The new cathedral was started in the 12th century, and work continued for several decades, obtaining the current size of the building. In the fifteenth century the interior was completely renovated, dividing it into three naves by tall red Verona marble pillars, building the side chapels and inserting a semicircular twister.
The facade, which bears the marks of various additions, is characterized by a large double-arched prothyrum, supported by two lions. The door is carved with images of biblical prophets and with real or fantastic animals taken from medieval bestiaries.
Its interior, on the other hand, is particularly rich in frescoes and precious works, above all the Assumption of the Virgin, a work by Titian from 1535, which is visible in the first chapel on the left, renovated in 1530 by Jacopo Sansovino.
The cathedral complex also includes the sixteenth-century bell tower, 75 meters high, still unfinished, designed by the Veronese architect Sanmicheli and the Romanesque cloister with the remains of floor mosaics.
The Baptistery is also called San Giovanni in Fonte, was built in the XII century and preserves the octagonal baptismal font inside, carved in bas-relief on all sides is a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture attributed to the workshop of the Veronese sculptor Brioloto.
In the atrium of Santa Maria Matricolare we find particularly curious archaeological excavations, in an evocative environment dating back to the Romanesque period which served as a covered passageway connecting the Verona Cathedral and the church of the canons.
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