Monday, 26 March 2012 08:10

Baptistery of Parma

Written by  matta
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According to an inscription on the north portal, in 1196, the architect and sculptor Benedetto Antelami began work on the construction and decoration of the Baptistery of Parma. Work was interrupted in 1216 during a series of political upheavals, culminating in the siege on the city by the imperial forces of Frederick II in 1247-48. Continued struggles with the Ghibelline faction would impede progress past the height of the second loggia level. Their access to the red marble of Verona, the territory of Ezzelino da Romano, was restricted until the conflicts were settled. Work was completed by 1270, the year of the building’s consecration. The uppermost gallery of blind arches, the balustrade and pinnacles were inserted between 1302 and 1307.

The baptistery is located on the Cathedral piazza between the Cathedral façade and the Episcopal palace. The octagonal building is strikingly vertical, the red Veronese marble alternating with white. It is one of the most important examples of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic style. The alternation between masses and empty spaces that characterizes the exterior surface achieves heightened effects of chiaroscuro. On the ground floor, for example, splayed portals alternate with blind arches. The upper registers, are instead composed of four orders of open loggias, followed by an upper level decorated with blind arches. The polygonal plan is accentuated by strong corner buttresses, which frame the baptistery’s eight sides.
The extraordinary sculptural cycle is the work of Antelami and his workshop. The master demonstrated himself capable heir of the great sculptural tradition of Emilian Romanesque, reinterpreted in a greater elegance and naturalism, deriving from the perhaps direct knowledge of examples of transalpine Gothic sculpture. A large part of the reliefs were executed to decorate the three grand portals, but there are others on the rest of the exterior and interior walls of the building. The building is thus a unified program from both a stylistic and iconographic point of view.
The principal entrance (The Portal of Judgment), opens to the west. In the lunette is Christ as judge, surrounded by Angels carrying the symbols of the Passion, and surmounted by a lintel in which the twelve apostles are represented, seated on a continuous vine. In the architrave underneath the lunette the Resurrection of the dead is depicted: in the center angels play the trumpets of the final judgment, to the left the elect leave their tombs, and on the right those who will be condemned to eternal fire. Traces of the original paint are visible on the lunette reliefs.


Additional Info

  • Address: Piazza Duomo, 7/a 43121 Parma
  • Province:
  • Phone: +39 0521.235886
  • Opening Days and Time: Tutti i giorni 9.00 - 12.30 e 15.00 – 18.45


    Intero € 5,00;
    comitive e over 65 € 3,00
    ridotto € 2,00;
    scuole € 1,00

    Biglietto Museo e Battistero:
    Intero € 6,00
    gruppi e over 65 € 4,00
    scuole € 1,00
  • Guided Tour: Per visite guidate contattare l'associazione Rabisch (Tel: +39 338 6357868 - Si offrono visite per gruppi di studenti, adulti e disabili. Guide disponibili in lingue straniere.
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Last modified on Friday, 08 April 2016 20:20