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San Pietro

Bologna's Half-Forgotten Cathedral

San Pietro

Founded in the 6th century, rebuilt in the 10th century and consecrated in 1184, and frescoed in the Renaissance by Francesco del Cossa and Ercole de' Roberto, Bologna's Cattedrale di San Pietro should be more interesting than it is. But as it was being enlarged in the late 16th century, the vaults collapsed; only fragments of the frescoes that inspired young Michelangelo survive in the Pinacoteca. Afterwards, nearly every trace of previous building was eliminated as it was rebuilt by Giovanni Ambrogio Mazenta in a showy Baroque style, with a facade added in 1747.

It was never a favourite of the locals. Like Venice’s former cathedral (another San Pietro) this church represented Rome’s authority, as opposed to that of the municipality, embodied in the basilica of the city’s patron saint—St Mark in Venice, and St Petronius in Bologna.

Inside are red marble lions from the portal of the original façade, and, in the first chapel on the right, a dramatic, terracotta Lamentation of Christ by Alfonso Lombardi (1522).

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Baroque Art and Architecture

Churches in Bologna

Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Rabe! Creative Commons License