Churches - Chiese, Bologna
Though plain and ordinary on the outside, the church of San Giovanni Battista dei Celestini is filled with art on the inside. The rather small structure was erected together with an adjacent convent in 1369 by the architect Antonio Galluzzi, but it was in the early 16th century that the interior received the richly decorated Baroque-style that has survived to this day. The entire ceiling is covered in frescoes, while the side chapels are sheathed in polychrome marble of the signature style barocco bolognese. The Neoclassical façade was a later addition, completed at the end of 18th century. Niccolò dell'Arca, the Renaissance sculptor whose stunning works are scattered around Bologna, is buried within the church.
Originally the Romanesque styled church of Santa Maria della Misericordia belonged to the order of sisters Cistercites, but then was given to the Benedictine order of Olivetani. In 1431 the church was reconstructed to its present appearance, while the fine portico was added at the end of the 15th century. Later on the church was altered and enlarged in both late-Gothic and Renaissance style by the Agostinian order called Osservanti.
The facade is in both late-Gothic and Renaissance style dominated by the portico. The two windows were designed by Francesco Francia.
There are some fine works of art on display in the interiors of the church; by Gaetano Gandolfi, Matteo Cossich, Giuseppe Maria Crespi and Vincenzo Spisanelli.
The imposing Baroque church of San Salvatore, with the contiguous convent, is one of the many examples of religious compounds built in Bologna during the time of the Papal hegemony. The church has ancient origins and since the 12th century it lodged the Canons Regular of Santa Maria di Reno. The building was restored in the 15th century and the whole construction got a more decorous structure, which then in 1606-1623 was completely replaced by a new monumental temple design. The front facade and the side present noble features, especially the facade drowned with big copper statues by Orazio Provaglia. The Romanesque bell tower is all that remains of the previous structure.
The interior is inspired to the Baroque churches of Rome and is rich in art treasures. It is the place of burial of great Quercino, the famous 17th century painter whos real names were Giovanni Francesco Barbieri.
The church is located in the square of the same name and both are raised several meters from the ground level comparing to the nearby surrounding streets. According to the tradition, the complex of San Stefano churches were built to commemorate the sanctuaries of Palestina and since 9th century the complex was called "Sancta Jerusalem" (the Heavenly Jerusalem). Following the same tradition, San Giovanni in Monte Oliveto - as it is commonly called - was built as part of this group, to commemorate the Basilica of Ascension, built by Constantine and St. Helen on the Mount of Olives.
The year of the foundation of the original church is thought to be the 433, at the time of San Petronio, as claimed by ancient church leaders, but the first written document dates back only to 1045. Since ancient times the church was officiated by the Lateran Regular Canons. The facade, started in 1441, had a portico supported by lions and was completed in 1474, adorned with a beautiful eagle in terracotta, modeled by Nicolo dell'Arca in 1494. The eagle is emblem of Giovanni the Evangelist. In the middle of the 16th century the church reached its present appearance by the presigious intervention of Antonio Morandi. The complex was also embelished by artistic works of Lippo Dalmasio, Quercino, Perugino and Raffaello. Its elegant facade was inspired by the Veneto-Ferrarese art.
On the right side of the Presbytery stands the 13th century Romanesque bell tower that reaches 40 meters in high. The upper part of the bell tower is more slender and was built in the 14th century in Ghotic style. The bellfry has four bells and the oldest dating back to 1344.
The interior has three naves divided by octagonal columns, and has 17 chapels. The last chapel, number 17 is important for its architecture and because it houses three paintings by Quercino. In one of the chapel is placed a duplicate of the famous "Santa Cecilia" by Raffaello, painted by Clemente Alberti.
Chiesa dei Servi is one of the most appreciated Churches by Bolognese people. Built in 1346 as the church Servite Community of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it was enlarged and altered in 1386, but completed only in 1500. The church was designed by Padre Andre da Faenza, who also contributed with his works in the Basilica di San Petronio.
The exterior is simple and plain, made of undecorated bricks. The most remarkable feature of the church is its courtyard or atrium. Sauch a feature was common in Early Christian churches, including the earlier St. Peters basilica in Rome, but has almost disappeared. The atrium have been modeled following the arcades by Brunelleschi at the Ospedale degli Innocenti in Florence. In the case of Santa Maria dei Servi a wide monumental arcade/shape portico was built around the church that encloses the entire square without interruption, extending along the left side of the building.
The interior of the church contains many artworks but the most valuable is La Maesta, work of great Florentine painter Cimabue who was teacher of Giotto. It also contains a famous pipe organ, regarded as one of the finest in Europe. The organ is unusual in that it can be operated with a mechanical action, as a barrel organ - roller organ.
Oratorio di San Bartolomeo di Reno is also known as church of Madonna della Pioggia, in reference to a miaculous intervention in 1561. It was originally built in 1204 to be seat of the Company of Saint Bartolomeo. The oratory used to hosted pelegrins on their way to Rome. The upper floor was used by the confraternity and for orphanage which was here from 1500 til the beginning of the 20th century.
The oratory suffered from years of neglect and was twice restored in 1536 and 1730. The interior preserve ancient frescoes by Zanotti, Crespi, Monti, Graziani and the 16th century statue of San Bartolomeo at the altair, work of Alfonso Lombardi.
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, in Via Galliera, was built on a site of an Romanesque church dating back to 1187. The present look of the church is from 1665 after it was completely restaurated. It seems though that the bell tower dates from an earlier period.
The front facade is adorned with a statue of Saint Peter, by Agostino Corsino, and one of Saint Paul, which is work of Peter von Verschaffelt.
The church of Santa Maria della Vita was designed in 1289 as a hospital to care for disabled people. In 1687 the building was turned into the church and the copper dome, designed by Giuseppe Tubertini, was added in 1787. The most of the freestanding sculptures on the front facade were executed by sculptor Nicolo dell'Arca, in 1490 and 1522.
In the interiors of the church one can admire earthenware masterpiece of Nicolo dell'Arca.
“Ah, signor, Bologna has not changed. Even at the gate
My heart was all a-flutter; every street,
Column and courtyard, statue, niche, facade,
Nodding a welcome to her sons again.”
— from “A Sausage from Bologna: a Comedy in Four Acts” 1909 by John Jay Chapman (1862–1933)
High above the parvis of Piazza San Martino la Beata Vergine del Carmelo tops a slender column. The attached plaque gives details about the column’s history. Andrea Ferreri was responsible for its completion in 1705. Born in Milan in 1673, Ferreri moved to Bologna at the age of 10. His talent was developed when he chose to study design and sculpture, as well as having apprenticed with Bolognese masters. There are about four or five other works Ferreri’s in Bologna. In 2000 a local bank paid for the restoration of the column.
Opening Hours 8.00 am - 12.00 pm and 4.00 pm - 7.00 pm
“The stained glass of Bologna proves entirely adequate to the promise of interest which the aspect of the city holds out to the arriving pilgrim.”
— from “A Stained Glass Tour in Italy” 1913 by Charles Hitchcock Sherrill (1867-1936)
San Martino’s spacious, Gothic interior is elegant and bright. It has three naves with ogival arches and vaults in the form of a cross. The many beautiful chapels hold precious Renaissance paintings, including works by Francesco Francia, whose ‘Madonna with Saints’ is in the first chapel on the left; Amico Aspertini; Paolo Uccello, whose 1437 fragmented fresco ‘Adorazione dei Magi’ is in the first chapel on the left; Lodovico Carracci; Lorenzo Costa; Girolamo da Carpi and Alessandro Tiarini.
Girolamo da Sermoneta sculpted the goldleafed frame of the main altar (see photo #2); it surrounds the 1548 ‘Madonna in trono e Sant’ by Francesco Francia.
Opening Hours 8.00 am - 12.00 pm and 4.00 pm - 7.00 pm
Of exceptional quality, for the ornaments and the sonority, is the sixteenth century organ on the right side of the presbytery. Interesting the cloisters and the rooms of the adjacent former Carmelites convent.
“I don’t know whether I drove out of Bologna today or was driven out. In other words, I was given an opportunity of leaving even earlier and I jumped at it.”
— from “Italian Journey” (1786-1788) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Santa Maria della Vita was founded in the second half of the 13th century by the Confraternity of Battuti of S. Maria della Vita, whose members provided assistance to pilgrims and invalids in the adjacent hospital which no longer exists. The church gets its name from its tradition of offering sanctuary to pilgrims and invalids.
No, it isn't just because the attendant thought my bare arms were no affront to the Divine, and let me in without that ghastly wrapper they sold me at the Basilica di San Petronio. I totally fell in love with San Domenico's final resting place -- literally, as he has a splendid tomb to which the luminaries of the day (Michelangelo, Nicola Pisano, and Niccolo' da Bari who was later called dell'Arca after the tomb he helped carve) contributed their skills, on display.
We happened to arrive when there was barely time to stroll the length of the nave, peer into the hand-carved and inlaid choir stalls (once considered the eighth wonder of the world), and spend a few moments in stunned appreciation of the "Apotheosis of St. Dominic" by Guido Reni which represents the saint's welcome into heaven by Jesus and his Mother in the Chapel of St. Domenic on the right-hand side of the basilica. We had barely enough time to sigh appreciatively at the gloriously carved marble. Candidly, most of what I can now relate is due to the helpful brochures rather than first-hand experience; we couldn't get quite close enough to descry all the details, which relate "a little theological treatise". At the top, God supports the world with his left hand, keeping it close to his heart. He stands on another globe while holding a scepter in his right hand to symbolize his kingship over the world. Below this are the symbols of creation representing earth, sky and sea. The next level contains the Angel of the Annunciation, the Angel of the Passion, and the four evangelists. One further level down and you find the eight patron saints of Bologna. Across the front of the tomb are St. Francis, St. Petronius, St. Dominic and St. Florian; behind are St. Agricola, St. John the Baptist, St. Procolus and St. Vitalis. These are all atop the sarcophagus containing the cypress coffin, which is itself surrounded by carved panels depicting important scenes from the life of the saint.
My advice? Go straight to the tomb when you arrive, and spend the time you need to acquaint yourself with the founder of the Dominican order. Then visit the Rosary Chapel, and imagine Mozart playing that organ -- which he did. There is also a small but exquisite museum full of art, reliquaries, and gorgeous chalices and other ecclesiastical necessaries which is worth your time.
Since the 13th century the Church of San Martino has been home to the Carmelite Order in Bologna.
The church was built in the first half of the 14th century; and was provided with brick vaults in 1457 and with a new facade at the end of the 15th century.
The NeoGothic façade was added in 1879 by Giuseppe Modenesi.
Opening Hours 8.00 am - 12.00 pm / 4.00 pm - 7.00 pm
During the religious services, the tourist visit could be limited or suspended.
“If Bologna were nothing of a city, it would still be a fine sound and sentiment; a thing recorded in art, in poetry, in stories of all sorts.”
— from “The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt” by Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)
Santa Maria della Vita was enlarged between 1454 and 1502; it had to be completely rebuilt at the end of the 17th century by the architecte G. B. Bergonzoni after its roof collapsed in 1686. The dome (see photo #1) was built to the design of Giuseppe Tubertini. The elegant and airy design of its interior is built on an elliptic plane.
On the high altar (see photos #4 & #5) there is the fresco ‘Madonna della Vita’ which dates from the second half of the 14th century.
This church is open Monday to Saturday, 07:30 to 19:30; Sunday, 16:30 to 19:00.
Hidden behind Via dell'Indipendenza on the narrow Via Manzoni, the small Chiesa della Madonna di Galliera has a beautifully carved sandstone façade, albeit not well preserved. The small church was built in the 13th century and renovated in the 16th and 17th centuries in the typical borocco bolognese style. The single nave in its interior is topped by a series of beautifully frescoed domes, painted by noteworthy Bolognese artists.