Although the church is named after the Dominican Saint Peter Martyr, it is better known as Santa Anastasia due to an ancient Arian cult building which stood on this place, dedicated to Anastasia of Sirmium.
The origins of the Church of Santa Anastasia are very ancient. It is believed that already in the Longobard era, where the current building stands, there were two Christian churches that, according to tradition, were built at the behest of the Ostrogoth King Theodoric. One was dedicated to Saint Remigius of Reims and the other to Saint Anastasia, a Christian martyr under Diocletian, whose cult spread from Constantinople to Verona around the 8th century.
The oldest information about this structure is contained in a diploma dated October 2, 890, issued by the King of Italy Berengario I. A second mention of the church is found in a document dated May 12, 1082. Subsequently, a decree of 1087 lists the numerous possessions of the church.
The Dominican friars arrived in Verona around 1220, and settled outside the city walls. In 1260, the bishop of Verona Manfredo Roberti decided that the Dominican friars had to settle in the city and build their own convent and church.
The friars purchased the land around the ancient Church of Santa Anastasia, and in 1290 the construction of the new basilica began. Around 1320, the apses, the high altar, the transept, the perimeter walls and the lower part of the facade were completed.
Although the basilica was solemnly consecrated on October 22, 1471, by the cardinal and bishop of Verona Giovanni Michiel, the works continued for over two centuries. Between 1491 and 1493, the master Lorenzo da Santa Cecilia built the new choir, while in 1498 the rose window of the facade and the side windows were added.
On March 19, 1807, at the behest of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Dominican order was suppressed. Subsequently, the church was entrusted to the diocesan clergy and it became a parish.
Between 1878 and 1881, the church was subjected to an intense cycle of restoration works in which the bell tower was consolidated, some marbles of the main door were replaced and the altars of the chapels were repaired.
The exterior of the Basilica of Santa Anastasia represents a fine example of Veronese Gothic architecture.
The facade, unfinished, is characterized by the large portal framed by a marble arch, a central rose window, two mullioned windows at the aisles and buttresses that rise above the eaves line on the sides.
Near the left arm of the transept, rises the imposing bell tower, 72 meters high and divided into six parts by string courses in white stone. The tower ends with a belfry with a three-light window on each side.
The interior of the church, rich in architectural elements and works of art, is divided into three naves covered with cross vaults. The aisles are separated by two series of six cylindrical columns, each in white marble and red Verona marble, with Gothic capitals.
The plan of the church is a Latin cross, with a large transept before the presbytery. The large apsidal area is in turn divided into five apses, separated by Gothic pilasters, ending with capitals.
The central apse houses the presbytery and the main altar, while the other apses house the chapels of the nobility. The walls of the basilica are mostly painted with frescoes and embellished with altars, chapels and funeral monuments of illustrious Veronese citizens. The interior receives sunlight from large windows and the rose window above the portal.
HOW TO GET THERE
Basilica of Santa Anastasia is located about 2.5 kilometers from the Verona Porta Nuova railway station. The closest bus stop is in Via Massalongo 5/C, about 90 meters away, on the bus Lines 70, 96 and 97. To find the church on foot, use the map below.