Thursday, August 10, 2017

VERONA 2017: The Three Basilicas

By now you know how much Astrid and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the interiors of European churches.  Verona was an absolute gold mine, perhaps more than any other city thus far, and today's post is a feel for it's three basilicas.

You may recall earlier that I've made a distinction between churches, cathedrals and basilicas, which you can freshen up on here.  The main thing about basilicas is that the Pope is the one who designates them as such.

Then you have the difference between major and minor basilicas.  There are only four major basilicas in the world, all of which are in Rome.  So the three basilicas here in this post are, naturally, all minor.

The order in which we visited the three are the same order of the red dots, left to right.

1.  The San Zeno Maggiore Basilica

This was the basilica we visited our first afternoon in Verona, after passing the Castelvecchio.
It was built between 1120 and 1138 as Northern Italy's most ornate Romanesque church.
The striped brickwork is typical of Romanesque buildings in Verona.

The nave is...heavenly!

Frescoes are everywhere.

You climb a few steps up to enter the altar area.

You climb a few steps down to the crypt below the main floor.

The inside bronze door panels at the front of the church are alone worth the visit,
depicting Biblical stories and scenes from the life of San Zeno, Verona's patron saint, 
who died in 380.

2.  The San Lorenzo Basilica

The next day, on the way to the Castelvecchio museum and bridge, 
we walked past this church and decided to see if it was open, not knowing it was a basilica.
Present since the 4th century, it was rebuilt after an earthquake in the 12th century.

It was the smallest church of all the ones we visited in Verona.
Small and cozy.

Not knowing how important it was, we only popped in and out.

While it was on the city map we used throughout our trip,
it had no number referenced as a major landmark to see.
Imagine my surprise to find out the Pope had designated it a basilica.

3.  The Sant'Anastasia Basilica

Later that afternoon, we visited the Sant'Anastasia basilica, begun in 1290.
By now we knew the outside look could be deceiving, which it definitely was.

OMG.  And so totally different from San Zeno.

Worshiping there would be a constant invitation to Look Up.

Alcoves surrounded the nave.

Pews/benches invited you to sit and just be.

The sacristy at the side of the altar was like a chapel.

So many things to see.  We were short of eyes.

But what thrilled me most were the hunchback beggars holding up the holy water stoups.

One was carved in 1495 (this one, I think?) and the other a century later.

You've heard me say this before:  these European churches are our museums,
the ones we choose to visit when we travel.
You can see why!


  1. Mind blowing and after seeing the pictures again it still is mind blowing. What great art and what extreme capable architects and artists to create these Basilicas. The two bottom collages of the hunchback are fabulous. Who thinks these things up at that time??? Thank you for putting in all the time to create this memory to keep. These are our museums and we never get tired of them. IHVJ.

    1. All these memories would run together, I'm afraid, Astrid, if I didn't keep them organized in these posts, so it's my pleasure (and self-made duty) to keep the memories intact. That you are my biggest fan club only makes me want to do it that much more, so I thank you!

  2. Hi Ginnie. This series is absolutely superb. 3 basilicas fabulous and great photos. Thank you for sharing.

    1. It's my pleasure, of course, Marie. It means a lot that you come by to share the journey. Merci.

  3. I totally agree with you, the churches in Europe are my museums as well. Great artists work are exhibited inside. Incredible post.

    1. I know you know, Maria, so thanks for coming along for the ride!

  4. Gorgeous photos of spectacular details! My favorite is San Lorenzo ... those stripes! But really, all the textures and patterns in all these photos quite blow me away.

    1. Dad would have loved San Lorenzo, Ruth, for how cozy it is. The bombastic churches are so way over the top for my own personal tastes, though always so incredible to see. So much to blow the mind in these places....

  5. One can imagine how insignificant one would feel, stood looking up at the beauty of those churches. It must have been overwhelming for the peasants of that time they were built. Heavenly!

    1. Overwhelming is an understatement, Marie. But you are so correct. It's hard to fathom the blood, sweat and tears...and money, often at the expense of the peasants...that went into building such places

  6. Couldn't agree more with Astrid...the architects and artists during those times...amazing! Gorgeous images!

    1. It really does blow the mind, Robin. It makes me wonder how the "common man" of the day felt about it, seeing all the money spent, sometimes at their expense?

  7. How lucky you are to be able to travel to such places regularly! This latest blog post is a special treasure for me for its architecture and history. I clicked open and studied every montage, wishing the individual shots could be larger. What a coffee table book you could make! I also dropped my jaw at St. Anastasia, but the beggars overwhelmed me. Wow! These are major works of art I never knew of. What thoughts they lead to! I hope that there are more such in my stock of “saved up” Soul.

    1. As you know by now, Ted, architecture is one of our greatest delights here in Europe. It constantly awes us, everywhere we go. And how the insides of these churches could be so varied is totally beyond me. I wish I could show you everything.

      BTW, on my Shutterchance blog, where I single out specific images that speak to me, I have a much larger and more "manipulated" look at what you see here. For instance, here's one of the frescoes in the San Zeno basilica:

  8. I am sitting here tapping on childhood traumas about my mother, then arrived at your post, and I must say that with all my emotions at the surface, I find ANYTHING catholic to be a tad traumatizing... beautiful as the architecture is, I know what it was housing, and to me what the beauty was hiding is something not so beautiful. Did I ever tell you that my mother got excommunicated from the catholic church? because she got in a fight with them, they wouldn't marry my older brother and his pregnant gf... so i guess technically the family got excommunicated!

    1. I'm sure there is a lot of "bad history" connected to these architectural wonders, Elaine, especially at the expense of the peasants. A double-edged sword? It's how to know how to get my mind around it, especially coming from your own perspective. I'm so sorry you have those memories.