Italy, Parma III – Gems of Art in Historic Center
Italy is a country where we can admire many churches from different periods. Parma itself has over sixty. The city offers visitors an architectural and gourmet experience, which certainly cannot do without visiting a church. The sacral buildings attract not only their spiritual atmosphere, but also their art. Come with us to visit a few of them and learn what art jewels are hiding under their vaults.
Walking through the most famous city of Emilia-Romagna, we visited Piazza del Duomo. As it approaches noon, the time when most of the churches in Italy close, we head straight for the cathedral in Lombard-Romanesque style.
The Santa Maria Assunta church was built in 1074 after a fire that destroyed an early Christian basilica from the 6th century. In the year 1117, the temple was damaged by an earthquake. The original building thus remained the presbytery, the transverse ship, the choir, the apse and fragments of the statues.
Particularly among the sculptures and reliefs in the temple, focus on the paintings that decorate the entire interior so that you will not miss the masterpiece of illusion from Antonio da Correggio. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (16th century) in the temple dome is approximately 650 m² in size and stands out for its perspective. This unmistakable work of the famous Renaissance painter draws your gaze high among the clouds and the splintering of human bodies into the shining light of eternity.
Other sights include the fresco cycle along the entire central ship by Lattanzio Gambara (1567–1573). The cycle records the life of Christ and episodes of the Old Testament. The right and left walls are decorated with episodes from the New Testament, above them are scenes from the Gospel, and the lunettes are allegorical figures. The apse is dominated by a fresco depicting Christ ascending to the heavens by Gerolam Mazzola Bedoli. There is also a crypt with two Renaissance chapels - the Rusconi Chapel and the Ravacaldi Chapel.
Returning to the square, you can admire the façade of the temple decorated with three pillared loggias and three portals. The entrance to the cathedral through the central portal is guarded by two marble lions (1281, Giambono da Bissone). One is red and the other is white. The wooden carved door is the work of Luchin Bianchini (1494). The tomb of Biagi Pelacani (1416) is located on the facade between the central and right doors. Up to 63 meters high Gothic bell tower with six bells towering to the right of the temple was added in the years 1284–1294 as a successor to the original tower.
A little bit further, there is the octagonal baptistery Battistero di Parma (Benedetto Antel, 1196–1216), one of the most important medieval monuments in Europe, also thanks to its interior fresco decoration (13th and 14th centuries). The most prominent is the painted arched ceiling with sixteen ribs. The vault is divided into six horizontal bands. The first shows the episodes of Abraham's life, the second life of John the Baptist, the third of Christ with the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, surrounded by prophets and kings, the fourth life of the apostles and evangelists, the fifth heavenly Jerusalem with stars, and the sixth the sky is shown in red color of love.
Three portals lead to the baptismal font of pink veron marble and four loggias: the Virgin Mary portal, the Savior portal, and the Baptist portal. You can check out the building for a fee.
Behind the cathedral we get to the square of Piazzale San Giovanni, to the monastery church of St John the Evangelist with white marble facade. The Church of San Giovanni Evangelista (10th century, rebuilt after the fire of 1498 and 1510) is part of a complex of a former Renaissance Benedictine monastery and is dominated by the 75m high bell tower (Giovanni Battista Magnani, 1613), which is the highest in Parma.
The interior is decorated with an illusionist fresco of the Vision of St John in Patmos by Correggio (1520–1522), who also created other works in the temple. Parmian native Parmigianino also contributed to the decoration.
We gradually returned to Via Garibaldi and to the small Piazzale della Steccata, where the monumental Renaissance Basilica di Santa Maria della Steccata (1521–1539) rises. We enter the temple with a Greek cross-shaped ground plan. John the Baptist, but today is one of the most beautiful buildings of the city.
The interior is decorated with paintings by most important artists of their time. Fresco decoration by Parmigiano, frescoes in the apse of the Coronation of Our Lady (1541) and Adoration of the Magi by Michelangelo Anselm, fresco on ceiling by Bernardina Gattiha or Holy Family by Jan Soens. In the crypt there are 26 Farnese family graves (Alexander Farnese and his wife Maria Infanta Portuguese - granddaughter of King Manuel I of Portugal, known for their artistic style of manuelism, there is also a crystal urn with the heart of Duke of Parma Charles III. 2010 buried Hugo, Duke of Parma).
We could keep wandering between the aisles and enjoy the atmosphere of the bustling North Italian town, its temples and parks. However, we set out to discover the gourmet products that made Parma famous.
But we will tell you about it next week.
GPS: 44°48'12.1"N 10°19'50.0"E
Text and photos: Anna Nociarová
Edited by: Infoglobe
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