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    With 132 meters in length and 60 meters wide, the Basilica of San Petronio is the sixth largest church in Europe, despite being largely unfinished. Although is not the cathedral of Bologna, a title that belongs to the nearby Cathedral of San Pietro, it can be considered the main church of the city.

     

    SHORT HISTORY

    In the 14th century, the Bolognese aristocracy revived the cult of San Petronio, bishop of Bologna during the 5th century, and planned to build a church dedicated to him. On June 7, 1390, the first stone was laid in a solemn procession.

    The project was given to the architect Antonio di Vicenzo, who consulted on the design of the church with the father Andrea Manfredi. At the beginning of the 15th century, di Vicenzo died, and the Papal Legate Baldassarre Cossa, an enemy of the Municipality of Bologna, took advantage of the architect’s death to sell the material gathered for the construction of the church.

    In 1507, the architect Arduino Arriguzzi was comissioned to continue the work. Arriguzzi was sent to Florence to see and study the dome built by Brunelleschi for the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. On April 30, 1514, the architect started working on the southern part of the structure, focused on the construction of a grandiose dome, which was never completed.

    In 1656, the current apse was built and the aisles were closed, but the transepts remained unfinished. In 1659, the window for the staircase of the high altar was put in place. In 1663, the ciborium above the high altar was finished.

    The basilica, built by the Municipality of Bologna, was transferred to the diocese only in 1929 and consecrated in 1954. Since 2000, it preserves the relics of the patron saint, Petronius, kept until then in the Basilica of Santo Stefano.

     

    ARCHITECTURE

    The unfinished facade of San Petronio measures 60 meters in width and 51 meters in height, and is divided into two horizontal sectors. The lower one, in marble, was executed between the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 16th century, while the upper one, with exposed brick material, remained unfinished.

    The central portal, partially incomplete, is the work of the sculptor Jacopo della Quercia. The two side portals were designed between 1524 and 1530 by Ercole Seccadenari.

     

    HOW TO GET THERE

    Basilica of San Petronio is located in Piazza Maggiore, the main square of Bologna. The closest bus stop is Piazza Maggiore, on the bus lines 29, A, C and T2. If you explore the historical center of Bologna on foot, and you want to find the church easily, use the map below.

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