Monday, 23 July 2012 13:09

Duomo of Reggio Emilia

Written by  matta
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An historical reconstruction of the cathedral of Reggio Emilia, located on the Prampolini Square, is hard because of the various construction phases and numerous restorations over the centuries, still ongoing. Until 903, the oldest documents show the cathedral of Reggio as San Prospero, which is the church located outside the town walls. The Bishop of Reggio decided to build a new cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria, already established in 857, by the powers conferred on him by the king Ludovico III and through the Act of donation of 31 October 900 in response to a raid by Hungarians. Thus, it is likely that the first cathedral of Reggio Emilia had been raised in its current position, between the years 904 and 942. Before there was probably a pagan temple, which was destroyed by order of Constantine, dedicated to Bacchus or Apollo. It is from 979 that the new cathedral began its period of maximum extension, when the bishop Ermenaldo helped strengthen its role by placing the remains of San Prospero. It is also assumed that the cathedral was rebuilt after the year one thousand at the end of the eleventh century, in according with the building dates of the greatest Romanesque cathedrals of other cities of Emilia Romagna as Modena and Fidenza. Reggio’s Cathedral had inside in the sixteenth century an inhomogeneous appearance: its Romanesque structure coexisted with the cross vaults of the fifteenth century and the Renaissance apses and transept. In the sixteenth century, the facade was rebuilt by Prospero Sogari, called "the Merciful", who concealed all the lower part to place marbles from the new project. The interior underwent a real homogenization work, with which the Sienese architect Cosimo Pugliani incorporated the old Romanesque structure in a Doric trabeation. In 1623 on the transept was erected the dome that was built by the priest Paul Messori and decorated in 1779 with frescoes designed by the designer Francesco Fontanesi.

The old structure of Reggio‘s cathedral, after a presupposed reconstruction in the eleventh century, was rebuilt in the same Tuscan style of San Miniato al Monte in Florence. It had a Latin cross with three naves and a transept. It was marked by the presence of a transverse nave that, together with an apse chapel, replaced the third span of the typical Tuscan style. Another foreign element in this Tuscan scheme is the octagonal dome cladding, built in 1269 during the so-called “restauro Malaguzzi”. It overlooked the front of the church and it is now detectable only on the outside, highlighted by the actual steeple. From year one thousand, various works of considerable artistic value were also carried out: frescoes, columns, capitals and the remains of the galleries from the Romanesque period. Among them there were also a mosaic floor from XII-XIII centuries, a Byzantine fresco with Christ in a mandorla with angels and saints that adorned the facade of the church until 1960 and the remnants of the ambo by Antelami’s school from the early thirteenth century.
In these years was probably built the crypt in which was found an interesting high relief of the Pantocrator, which comes from the parapet of the pulpit standing over the crypt. This sculpture has been dated between 1220 and 1230 and it is attributed to the circle of Antelami. The same attribution had the column-bearing lions, which probably held up the supporting columns of the pulpit of the Cathedral. The building has a cruciform plan that consists in the nave, transept and choir. Pillars divide the nave from the aisles. On the sides of the aisles open five chapels, where there are the most important tombs, paintings and works of famous artists from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries including Bartolomeo Spani, Domenico Cresti called Passignano, Cristoforo Roncalli, called Pomarancio, Orazio Talami, Palma il Giovane, Annibale Carracci e Giovan Francesco Barbieri called Guercino.

Additional Info

  • Address: Piazza Natale Prampolini, 4 42121 Reggio Emilia
  • Province:
  • Phone: +39 0522 433783
  • Opening Days and Time:

    Il Duomo è aperto dalle 7 alle 12 e dalle 16 alle 19. L'ingresso è gratuito.

  • 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.
  • Recommended Restaurants:
  • Alloggio consigliato:
Last modified on Monday, 23 July 2012 13:23

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