San Petronio Basilica

The Basilica of San Petronio is the main church of Bologna. The façade dominates the Piazza Maggiore. With its massive dimensions (length 132 m, width 60 m, height 45 m vault ) is the fifth largest church in the world. Noteworthy is the colors of the walls and the polychrome glass windows.

Architectural History

The hl. Petronius, Bishop of Bologna in the 5th century and patron saint of the city, dedicated, she goes back to the year 1390, when the city of Bologna, Antonio Di Vincenzo commissioned the construction of a huge church in the Gothic style. Initially, they should be larger than the (then) St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. By order of the Pope - Bologna belonged to the Papal States - this intention was abandoned. It bears the title of minor Basilica.

The Basilica enjoyed from the beginning celebrity so that she was chosen by Charles V for his imperial coronation by Pope Clement VII in 1530.

For centuries, was built at the church. After the initial design of the facade in 1393, work on the side chapels, which were only completed in 1479 began. The decorations of the nave were made by Girolamo Rainaldi 1646-1658.

The structure of the façade has been enriched by new side portals the facility, which should complement the main portal by Jacopo della Quercia. However, the construction was temporarily set and resumed later. Many architects ( including Baldassare Peruzzi, Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola, Andrea Palladio, Leon Battista Alberti ) have been considered for an overall approach to rate, but without ever finding a permanent solution. The facade is unfinished to this day.

The basilica was the diocese passed only in 1929 and consecrated in 1954. Only since 2000, they preserved the relics of their patron saint, which until then were in the Basilica of Santo Stefano.


In the interior, the following works of art are to be seen: Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine of Filippino Lippi, Madonna with Saints by Lorenzo Costa the Younger, The Lamentation of Christ with Four Saints Amico Aspertini.

There are also important native of the 15th century the inner choir of wood by Agostino de ' Marchi and the two opposing organs. The 1475 -built instrument on the right is the oldest known organ of Italy and also the first with separate registers. It was built by Lorenzo di Giacomo Prato. The organ on the left was added at the end of the 16th century.

It is also interesting the ciborium over the high altar, which was made ​​in 1547 by Giacomo Barozzi.

The fourth chapel on the left side ( Cappella Bolognini ), which was decorated in the early 15th century, has an elaborately decorated marble plate in the Gothic style. Above the altar is a painted polyptych gold and polychrome wood is carved with 27 in marble and painted images. All the walls were painted by Giovanni da Modena: on the right side of the journey of the Three Kings, on the front wall known events from the life of St. Petronius. The frescoes of the Last Judgment on the left is a three-part presentation by the descriptions of Dante. Above is paradise, the place of the saints, with the Coronation of the Virgin by Christ in a Deësisdarstellung. Below is the Archangel Michael and the indented spaces in hell with a giant representation of Lucifer and an adjacent Mohammed can be seen.

In the crypt there is a written around 1160 to 1180 Triumph Cross Group, one of the oldest preserved.

In the Church and the meridian of Giandomenico Cassini is to be admired, which was created in 1655 after the plans of the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini: 66.8 m, it is the longest lunch line in the world.

In the Basilica, there are two organs, the left and right are the main altar. These are two of the oldest organs in Italy. The organ on the epistle is from the years 1471-1475, and was built by Lorenzo di Giacomo da Prato. The organ on the Gospel side was built in 1596 by Baldessarre Malamini. Both instruments each have 12 stops on one manual and are equipped with an attached pedal. The mechanical tracker action are each original. The organs have been changed several times over the years, and was last restored in 1986 by the organ builder Tamburini.


The church also contains the remains of Elisa Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister.

Attempted terrorist attacks

In 2002, Al Qaeda terrorists tried to blow up the church. Another attempt failed in 2006. Terrorists said that a fresco in the church of insulting the Prophet Mohammed.