• About

    The Summer Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, also known as Duomo Nuovo (New Cathedral), is the main church of Brescia, located in Piazza Paolo VI.

     

    SHORT HISTORY

    In 1603, the architect Agostino Avanzo demolished the ancient Basilica of San Pietro de Dom, to make room for the construction of a new cathedral, more suited to the new architectural needs dictated by the Counter-Reformation.

    Avanzo presented a first project for the cathedral, with a Latin cross plan, with three naves and a transept, protruding side altars and a large central dome. The architect Giovanni Battista Lantana presented a similar project, but more modern and with greater structural attention. Both ideas, however, were rejected.

    Lantana presented a new project, with a Greek cross plan, a large central dome surrounded by four minor domes and a protruding apse, but this was also rejected. Finally, Lantana proposed a third project, with some modifications compared to the second, which was approved.

    The first stone of the cathedral was laid in 1604, but the controversy, however, didn’t diminished. The architect Pier Maria Bagnadore proposed an alternative project, practically a copy of the definitive one of Lantana, with the only addition of a span towards the west that would convert the Greek cross into a Latin cross.

    The dispute was won by Bagnadore, who became the construction manager, while Lantana remained to manage the economic aspect of the construction site. In 1611, a few years after Lantana left the project, Bagnadore returned to the Greek cross layout, and was fired by the bishop Giorgi. Bagnadore was replaced by the Milanese Lorenzo Binagio, who, together with the local architect Antonio Comino, started the second phase of the construction.

    The plague epidemic that affected Italy around 1630 and the consequent economic crisis put a strain on the construction site of the cathedral, causing an almost 40-year shutdown.

    The construction site resumed in the second half of the 17th century, and the third phase of the construction began. Antonio Biasio became the new construction manager and, in 1719, he designed a new facade, with a semicircular pediment crowning, very fashionable at the time. The idea remained until 1748, when Biasio modified again the design of the facade.

    In 1758, Biasio died and Giovanni Battista Marchetti took over the direction of the works, accompanied by his son Antonio. The facade, currently finished only in the lower half, was again modified, this time according to the Neoclassical taste, with a triangular pediment on top.

    The great dome, designed by Luigi Cagnola and built by Rodolfo Vantini, was completed in 1825.

    The cathedral suffered considerable damage during the aerial bombardment of July 13, 1944. Restored after the war, the structure took on its original appearance.

     

    ART AND ARCHITECTURE

    The facade overlooking Piazza Paolo VI is the most characterizing element of the cathedral: made of Botticino marble, it is symmetrical and develops on two orders, with the lower one being wider to contain the two side entrances. The upper order, on the other hand, is mainly decorative, being much higher than the ceiling of the cathedral.

    In the center of the facade, there is a large portal with an arched pediment, housing the bust of Cardinal Angelo Maria Querini made by Antonio Calegar in 1750. On the upper level, we can find a high window, surmounted by a triangular pediment. Triangular is also the main pediment of the facade, where the coat of arms of Brescia stands out.

    The interior, majestic and solemn, has a Greek cross plan, with a single nave. The giant Corinthian order of the facade is repeated inside, coherently decorating all the walls and supports of the dome.

    The dome rests on a high drum illuminated by large rectangular windows, and the whole structure is supported on four pillars refined by eight tall Corinthian columns.

     

    HOW TO GET THERE

    The Summer Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is located about 1.2 kilometers from the Brescia railway station. The closest Metro station is Vittoria, located about 290 meters away. The closest bus stop is in Piazza Martiri di Belfiore, about 200 meters away, on the bus Lines 2, 6, 10, 11, 17 and 18.

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