basilica of san petronio visit Bologna

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Opening hours and prices: the inside of the basilica can be visited for free every day from 7:45 to 18 (admission to the Terrazza and the Cappella dei Magi costs € 3). The internal museum, also free, is open from tuesday to saturday from 10 to 17 and sundays and festivities from 15 to 17 (closed monday).

Position:  click here to reach Basilica San Petronio


Dedicated by the Council to the patron saint of the city. With its 132 meters in length and 60 meters in width, it is the fifth biggest church in the world, designed to compete with Saint Peter’s in Rome.

The construction


Building began in june 1390 and finished in 1659.

The temple was demanded by the civil authority, who wished to express its devotion to the Bishop of Bologna, Petronio, who lived in the first half of the 5th century, and whose worship had always been promoted by the city government.

The first stone of the great church, designed by Antonio di Vincenzo (1350-1402), assisted by his collaborator Andrea da Faenza (1315-1396) was placed on June 7, 1390. When Antonio di Vincenzo died, the works underwent a first setback to which many others would follow. And only in 1659 the basilica of San Petronio took on its definitive appearance. Althought even though unfinished.

The enormous building, one of the tallest examples of Gothic architecture, features a marble facade only in the lower order, where the bas-reliefs by Jacopo della Quercia stand out around the central portal, while the upper part was built in brick. The interior, very spacious, allows for the ribbing of the Gothic building to be seen and holds numerous paintings and sculptures of the greatest Italian

Curiosities on the basilica of San Petronio

The building started as a challenge: it had to be the largest church in the world.

But then Bologna had to scale down its ambitions and the Catholic temple, though a masterpiece, remained in many parts unfinished.

It is immediately noticeable from the façade: the lower part is covered with marble, while the upper part is more modest brick.

Before commencing construction, the town destroyed a whole neighborhood of houses to make way for the basilica’s construction site.

Which, and though unfinished, it is still a church of great importance, a splendid example of the Italian gothic, enriched by the three splendid façade portals, the central one in particular by Jacopo della Quercia.

In this basilica, on February 24, 1530, Pope Clement VII crowned Emperor Charles V.


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