Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Looks Aren't Everything

Basilica di San Petronio façade

Basilica di San Petronio transept

In Bologna the very noteworthy Basilica di San Petronio is perhaps not the most visual stimulating Italian cathedral, but makes up for its beauty in its story. It begins with the history of Bologna. Bologna was under to rule of the loving Benivoli family, separated from the Papal state. From 1390-1507, the Benivolis, which translates into I love you, constructed the Basilica di San Petronio as a symbol of power and rebellion to the Pope. As an act of defiance the cathedral was oriented in the North-South direction, instead of the traditional catholic East-West. It was also to be larger than the Pope’s St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. However, the story ends sadly. The Pope returned to Bologna, and immediately stopped the building. Basilica di San Petronio was left in an unfinished condition. Only the bottom half of the front façade was covered in marble, the top remains naked. The plans for the dome were never realized, and the completion of the transept halted, leaving the church only the third largest catholic cathedral in the world.

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