Discover the sublime in the Basilica of San Petronio.
The sense of awe one experiences stepping inside the Basilica di San Petronio is compatible in strength only to that caused by Rome’s San Pietro. Bologna’s patron saint Petronio has merited the world's 10th largest church by volume: imposing 132m in length, 66m in width and 47m in height.
The turbulent construction of the grand church started in 1390 but was then fuelled by the rivalry with San Pietro. In fact, San Petronio’s Latin-cross was aimed to overtop that of Rome’s. However, when Pio IV came to power in the 16th c., he ordered to abandon the architectural madness and devoted all the city funds to the construction of Archiginnasio. Since then the main facade remains unfinished, by now considered peculiar, rather than incomplete.
Oddly, one of the Basilica’s main attractions represents the union between the church and science. Cassini’s Meridian line is the longest in the world (219 ft/ 66.8 m) and accurately indicates the day of the year. Dating back to 1655, it is one of the largest astronomical instruments in the world as well as uniquely precise for the time of its construction.
San Petronio is home to one of the most controversial religious frescos, that of Mohammed tortured in Hell. Because of that, one can notice guards lingering outside of the church.
Basilica di San Petronio
Piazza Maggiore, Bologna