San Domenico, Bologna

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 Reviews

Piazza San Domenico, 13 051 640 0411

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    portal of San Domenico
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    San Domenico

    by Kathrin_E Written Apr 28, 2015

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    The church of San Domenico is “headquarters” of the Dominican or Preachers’ Order and the burial place of its founder, Saint Dominicus, hence one of the most important places of catholic cult in Bologna. The Dominican order founded its convent with a small church right here in 1219. Dominicus himself lived in this convent and died right here in 1221. The order then acquired the surrounding real estate and started building the large church and convent that we see now. While the façade is still Romanesque, the interior was refurbished in the baroque era like most catholic churches.

    Dominicus’s tomb and relics are preserved inside the church. They rest in the shrine inside the magnificent Chapel of St Dominicus on the right. His skull is on display in there. During a previous visit we were guided by a monk to this place of devotion and I had the opportunity to look the saint into the eyes (or where the eyes had been. To me that was a bit creepy. But I rather not told the friendly monk that I am a Protestant.)

    There are more art works worth mentioning, for example the painting “Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine” by Filippino Lippi (photo 5) in one of the choir chapels. I also found the glass chandeliers quite remarkable (photo 3).

    The church is open in the daytime except during mass. Entry is free. It took me a little effort to escape a group of enterprising boy scouts who absolutely wanted to sell me some cake, though (but I think this was an unique charity action of theirs on that one day).

    Outside in the square a statue of Saint Dominicus is blessing everyone from the top of the column. The two elevated tombs are the burial places of noble V.I.P.'s.

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    San Domenico: the exquisite choir stalls.

    by leics Written Nov 23, 2014

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    I wasn't expecting much when I followed a couple of other people 'round the back' of the altar (access is to the right). I didn't mind putting a small entrance fee into the machine (2 euro, if memory serves) to go through the entrance way, though it seemed a little odd in a church.

    But what I found behind would have made an entrance fee of 10 euro worthwhile.

    I've always been interested in the carvings on Medieval choir stalls. they were generally made by ordinary working men of the time and often tell us a great deal about how ordinary folk thought, as well as giving us huge amounts of information about clothing, daily life and so on and so forth. These choir stalls aren't actually Medieval...they were created during the 1500s, all 102 of them by the same Domenican friar: Damiano da Bergamo.

    He carved the seat themselves, and their canopies, during the period 1528-1530. From 1541-49 the friar added the most intricately detailed inlay to each and every seat, with each of the larger ones having a scene from the Old or New Testament as its back and the front rows having complex geometrical patterns. Wiki tells me that the scenes were copied from drawings in a book by Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and that Damiano's brother Stefano did the carving.

    I can't put into words how much these choir stalls impressed me. The sheer wealth of detail is truly staggering. It is no wonder that this piece of art was considered at the time to be truly magnificent...and it is a pity, imo, that more is not made of it nowadays. They aren't easy to photograph, for the wood is highly-polished (almost 500 years of polish!) and there are windows all round the area in which they are now set.

    But do take the time, and pay the small fee, to go behind the altar and explore the choir stalls. I spent well over half-an-hour in there, just looking at the 'pictures' and wondering at the skill and patience which their creation had involved.

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    San Domenico: the church itself

    by leics Written Nov 23, 2014

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    Basilica San Domenico is a hugely important church for the Domenican Order, for it lie the bones of their founder, Saint Domenic (real name Dominic Guzman).

    Until I began researching this church I hadn't realised that the Dominican Order was quite so 'young' (in religious terms). Dominic Guzman arrived in Bologna in 1218, founding the order first at Mascarella and then to the small church of s Nicolo on what was then the outskirts of the town. He died in 1221, in the church of Nicolo, but not before the order was very firmly established.

    Work quickly began to greatly extend the church of S Nicolo and to build the large adjoining monastery. By 1240 both structures were well on the way to completion, the church being consecrated in 1251. The remains of St Domimic, originally buried behind the altar, were first moved to a marble sarcophagus and then, in 1267, to a purpose-built shrine decorated by sculptor Pisano. The shrine took 5 more centuries to complete and is the only part iof the church where photography is not allowed.

    Many side-chapels were added to the church in the 1400s, and a bell-tower in the 1300s. The interior was remodelled in the Baroque style in the 1700s, something which I personally find rather sad...but fashions come and go in church architecture as in everything else.

    San Domenico contains some important pieces of art, including work by Michelangelo and Filippino Lippi and Pisano. The church museum houses many of these pieces whilst others are on display in the church itself.

    I liked San Domenico very much, even though I am not a fan of the Baroque. I couldn't get a close look at the Chapel of San Domenico (for some reason it was roped off) but was very taken by the wonderful early-Medieval Crucifixion by Pisano which is on display in the Chapel of St Michael the Archangel, to the left of the altar. There is also a fresco of St Christopher on the wall of that chapel and a remarkably-elaborate marble memorial, embellished with black-and-white decoration. I also think, though I am not sure, that another memorial in that chapel displays the real head of a deceased holy person (a nun, I think).

    But, for me, the real highlight of San Domenico is the exquisite marquetry of the 16th-century choir stalls tucked away behind the altar. I was so hugely impressed that I'll have to make a separate tip about them. :-)

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    San Domenico: Tombe di Glossatori

    by leics Written Nov 23, 2014

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    Only five of the elaborate early-Medieval tombs of the 'glossatori', the most important and celebrated teachers of Bologna's university, remain today. Three are behind Basilica San Francesco.

    The remaining two are in what was once the churchyard and is now in the pleasant Piazza San Domenico to the left of that Basilica.

    All the 'tombs' (they are really mausoleums) date from the 12-1300s and all five were restored in the late 1800s. All follow the same basic style: a pedestal or pillared base supporting a canopy, also supported by pillars, underneath which the sarcophagus itself lies.

    The tomb of Rolandino de 'Passengers dates from between 1300 and 1306 and although it has undergone several restorations over the centuries, and suffered bomb damage in the Second World War, it is thought that its structure is pretty-much the same as it was originally. Unfortunately, when I visited Bologna in October 2014 it was shrouded in scaffolding and plastic sheeting, almost invisible and clearly undergoing substantial restoration and repair.

    The tomb of Egidio Foscherari is a little earlier, almost certainly completed by 1291. It is a simpler construction than the other four tombs and it is suggested that this simplicity is because Foscherari was an expert in church law. The others were experts in civil law. The interior of the canopy was originally decorated with stars and, interestingly, a fragment of a Carolingian altar is inserted into the western side. The Carolingians were a Frankish regal dynasty, reigning from roughly 750-1000 CE)

    That tomb is now part of the wall of a more recent building, making it something of an oddity. When I visited it too was taped off, which suggests that it is next on the list for repair.

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    Chiesa San Domenico

    by Trekki Updated Nov 1, 2014

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    The church San Domenico, with the status of a basilica, is interesting in context to the artwork inside. The church is said to have been founded by San Domenico, founder of the Dominican Order, itself, who came to Bologna around 1200 and also died here in 1221, at the age of 51. Most noteworthy inside is the chapel of San Domenico, with artwork from famous masters, among these Michelangelo. The chapel houses San Domenico’s tomb, especially fascinating is a shrine at the back, with his reliqs showing.

    Outside of the church, on the piazza, is another of these interesting looking tombs of the glossatori, ”glossators”, lawyers of Bologna. In this case the tomb of Rolandino de Passageri.

    Photography not allowed inside, especially not in the famous chapel.

    Location of chiesa San Domenico on Bing Maps.

    © Ingrid D., November 2014 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)

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    Basilica di San Domenico

    by MM212 Updated Jun 10, 2012

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    Considered one of the most important churches in Bologna, the Basilica di San Domenico contains the tomb of Saint Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order. Saint Dominic died in this church and was buried within it in 1221 back when it was a much smaller structure dedicated to San Nicolò. After his death, the church was rededicated to him and was expanded over time to form this large Basilica of multiple styles with no distinctive shape, and included the adjacent Dominican monastery. The structure now mixes a 13th century Romanesque façade with a 14th century Gothic tower, a 16th Renaissance Ghisilardi chapel, and an 18th century Baroque interior. One of its biggest treasures is the Chapel of Saint Dominic, his tomb, and his ark, which were the work of numerous famous artists such as Nicola Pisano and Michelangelo. It also contains works of art by Niccolò dell'Arca and Guercino. The Basilica is located on Piazza di San Domenico, which contains a statue of the saint mounted on a column, along with one of Bologna's distinctive green pyramidal tombs.

    Basilica di San Domenico The Baroque Central Nave Capella e l The Romanesque Fa��ade
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    My favorite church in Bologna: St. Dominic's

    by Bunsch Updated Apr 23, 2011

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    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.

    Chapel of St. Dominic
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    Basilica di San Domenico, Part II

    by von.otter Updated Nov 13, 2010

    The column at the center of Piazza di San Domenico in front of Basilica di San Domenico is made of brick with a 1627 bronze of San Domenico at its top.

    Opening hours for the basilica are from Monday to Friday 9.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 6.30pm. Saturday and Sunday 9.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

    Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010
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    Basilica di San Domenico, Part IV

    by von.otter Updated Nov 9, 2010

    “But in the Cappella San Domenico there awaits one the Guido Reni fresco in the dome, and beneath it the exquisite tomb of the saint, which is known as the Area di San Domenico, of the wonderful workmanship of Niccolo Pisano and his
    pupil, Fra Guglielmo, a Dominican friar. The tomb is adorned with six large bas-reliefs, which tell the story of Dominic’s life-work.”
    — from “Catholic Educational Review,” 1918 Edward Aloysius Pace, Thomas Edward Shields, Catholic University of America

    REST IN PEACE The final resting place for San Domenico is an elaborate marble sarcophagus, in small part carved by Micheleangleo.

    The kneeling figure of an angel bearing a candle (see photo #4) was completed during Michelangelo’s stay at Bologna, where he was the guest of Giovan Francesco Aldovrandi, a member of the Bolognese government. One day Aldovrandi took the artist to see the tomb of San Domenico. Aldovrandi asked the young sculptor if he would undertake the task of carving an angel carrying a candle; he agreed. Michelangelo was paid 30 ducats for his work, the angel to the right. He also carved a small figure of San Petronio that stands at the rear of the tomb.

    Opening hours are from Monday to Friday 9.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 6.30pm. Saturday and Sunday 9.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

    Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010
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    Basilica di San Domenico, Part I

    by von.otter Updated Nov 5, 2010

    “San Domenico is externally a Romanesque church, though the interior was completely remodelled during the last century, and all antiquity driven out.”
    — from “American Architect and Architecture” 1885

    The Basilica of San Dominco started life as San Nicolò of the Vineyards on the fringes of Bologna. Dominic Guzman made this church his home when he came to Bologna in January 1218. He began his preaching order here; he died here on 6.August.1221; and he was buried behind the church’s altar. Expansion and renovation of the church began after Our Saint’s death in 1221; its severe Romanesque façade is built in brick. In 1313 a bell tower (see photo #5) in the Roman-Gothic style was added. The church’s style served as the prototype for other Dominican churches throughout the world.

    Piazza San Domenico (see photo #1), in front of the church, is paved with cobblestones, just as it was in the Middle Ages. The square was used by the faithful to listen to the sermon from the preacher from the pulpit on the left corner of the church.

    Opening hours are from Monday to Friday 9.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 6.30pm. Saturday and Sunday 9.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

    Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010
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    Basilica di San Domenico, Part III

    by von.otter Written Nov 5, 2010

    The cloistered courtyard at the Basilica of St. Dominic is a peaceful, green escape from the world. It contains some interesting details, such as an iron eagle (see photo #4).

    Opening hours are from Monday to Friday 9.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 6.30pm. Saturday and Sunday 9.30am to 12.30pm and 3.30pm to 5.30pm.

    Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010 Basilica di San Domenico, Bologna, May 2010
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    San Domenico

    by Tijavi Updated Dec 22, 2008

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    San Domenico is perhaps the most evocative church I've visited in my travels. This has a lot to do with the sole purpose of the church - to house the remains of St Dominic who died here in 1221; and the way this purpose was executed through the Arca di San Domenico, the tomb where the saint's remains are interred. The tomb is a composite masterpiece of some of Italy's best artists: Nicola Pisano for the statues that adorn the tomb, as well as reliefs depicting the life of the saint, Nicola di Bari for the dramatic canopy, and figures of the angels and Sts Procolus and Petronius by the young Michelangelo.

    Arca di San Domenico Facade of San Domenico Inside San Domenico St Dominic's tomb Monks' choir stall
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    Basilica di San Domenico

    by Airpunk Updated Oct 22, 2006

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    The Basilica of San Domenico, once called Santa Maria delle Vigne, was built in the 13th century. It underwent several changes in the middle ages as well is in the renaissance with the addition of further chapels. The last mayor restauration took place in 1728. The dominant styles of the facade are romanesque and renaissance, interestingly gothic plays only a minor role. The interior of the church is baroque. Once, it was a complex consisting of two churches, but these were merged into one during the 1728 works.

    On the quare in front of the church, you will find two columns and two shrines with tombs. The columns depict St. Dominic (1627 - his remains are in a shire within the church) and the Madonna of the Rosary (1632). The tombs are those of Rolandino de Passageri and Egidio Foscarari. A house is built around the latter tomb so that the shrine looks like it is inserted into this house.

    Basilica of San Domenico and San Domenico pillar Basilica of San Domenico and Madonna pillar Tomb of Rolandino de Passageri Tomb of Egidio Foscarari
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    Basilica di San Domenico

    by croisbeauty Updated Jun 16, 2006

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    Basilica di San Domenico, called also Santa Maria delle Vigne, was founded in the 13th century by the monastic order Black Friars (Dominicans). After St. Dominic's death, in 1221, the old church underwent several restorations, the building was enlarged and new chapels had been added. The church was finally restored by Bolognese architect, Carlo Francesco Dotti, in 1728. The church kept some valuable paintings by Nicolo Pisano, Lodovico Caracci, Guido Reni, while St. Petronius and St. Proloco statues were carved by Michelangelo.
    In front of the church two huge pillars depicting St. Dominic and Madonna del Rosario stand in the square, and in between them is placed Rolandino de Passeggieri's tomb.

    Piazza San Domenico Basilica di San Domenico Basilica di San Domenico portal of San Domenico Dominicans in discusion

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    Basilica di San Domenico - Interior

    by Willettsworld Written Aug 26, 2005

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    Inside the Basilica there are priceless works of art like Saint Thomas by Guercino, the Nativity by Luca Cambiaso, the Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine by Filippino Lippi, Saint Raymond by Lodovico Carracci and the Crucifix by Giunta Pisano. Also very interesting is the chapel of Saint Dominic with sculptures by Nicolò Pisano, Alfonso Lombardi and G.B. Boulard, whilst Michelangelo made the statues of Saint Petronio and Saint Procolo.

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