The first information about a small church dedicated to Santa Maria dates back to 1214, near which, in 1244, the community of Sancta Maria Mater Domini of Longare bought a piece of land and built a modest monastery. In 1277, the monastery passed to the Clarisse nuns of San Francesco.
In the 15th century, the monastery was in a state of serious decline, due both to economic reasons and to the isolation in which it found itself after the construction of the Scaliger walls.
The ancient Church of Santa Maria was demolished in 1675 and rebuilt in Baroque style by the architect Guarino Guarini. The works were completed in 1680, but the consecration of the church took place only on November 17, 1743, by the bishop of Vicenza, Antonio Maria Priuli.
In 1797, the nuns were expelled by the French army, which used the rooms to house the troops. They returned there in 1799, but were definitively removed from the property in 1810, by virtue of the Napoleonic law of suppression of religious orders.
Starting with 1813, the church became the seat of the parish of Saints Vito and Lucia. The monastery, on the other hand, partially destroyed by the French troops, was bought by Count Antonio Capra, who had it demolished, using the area to create a large garden for his villa, the current Parco Querini.
In 1968, a new church dedicated to Christ the King was built in Borgo Scroffa, and the parish seat was transferred there. Thus began a gradual abandonment of the church, which became functional only after it was renovated in the 1990s.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The facade of the church, enriched by 15 statues, has two superimposed plans, with a frieze on top, with the image of the Madonna and two figures of prophets.
A strong chiaroscuro effect is created by the Corinthian columns, pilasters and cornices. Above this, rises the dome, lightened by eight large oval windows, crowned by a balustrade and culminating in a lantern.
Inside, a double ellipse is inscribed on a rectangular plan, which creates a ring in the interspace which, in turn, generates four ambulatories.
In the center, there are four trunks of columns that support mighty arches on which the dome is placed, innervated by eight ribs.
The most important artistic element is the high altar in Baroque style, a marble work by the Venetian Tommaso Bezzi, dating back to 1696. Behind the altar, is the altarpiece attributed to the Paduan Pietro Liberi.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Church of Santa Maria in Araceli is located about 1.9 kilometers away from the Vicenza railway station. The closest bus stop is in Viale Ferdiando Rodolfi, about 250 meters away, on the bus Lines 2, 9 and 11.
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