The Church of Santa Maria Maggiore is an important place of worship in the city of Trento, and the site of the Third Session of the Council of Trent.
Traditionally, the foundation of the church was attributed to St. Vigilius, the third Bishop of Trento, in the late fourth of early fifth century. In the Roman period, there were public buildings, including a public baths, on the site where the church was later built. The original church itself was built somewhat later than previously thought, in the late fifth or early sixth century, and had a large space divided into three naves. The chancel of this church, which was still in use towards the end of the tenth and eleventh centuries, contains traces of an opus sectile pavement dating to late antiquity, which was later replaced with a mosaic from the middle of the 6th century.
Between the late 8th and early 9th centuries a number of building works were undertaken on the cathedral, in particular the addition of richly-decorated stone liturgical fittings, including a rood screen and a ciborium. In the late 10th or early 11th centuries the old church was demolished, and its structure, including the Carolingian fittings, were used as building materials for a new church, smaller than the previous one. It had a semicircular central apse with two side-apses.
Evidence from a find of coins indicates that after 1290 a third church was built on the site of the previous one. This one had two naves ending in symmetrical apses. This building preserved, among other elements of earlier edifices, fragments of frescoes and parts of a gothic fascicule semi-pillar at one of its entrances. In 1520, work started on the current church, at the direction of Bernardo Clesio. Between 1899 and 1901 further works and restoration modified the renaissance façade.
Santa Maria Maggiore was the site of the Third Session of the Council of Trent (1545–1563).
The main façade consists of an arched entrance in renaissance style with a door commissioned by Prince-Archbishop Cristoforo Madruzzo in 1539. Above the door is a lunette depicting the Annunciation. The bell tower, 53 metres high, is the tallest in the city. Constructed of white limestone, it has two rows of three-mullioned romanesque windows and a polygonal cupola.
The interior of the church consists of a single nave. Along the sides are a series of chapels with marble altars in the baroque style. There are also a series of altarpieces and the baroque sarcophagus containing relics attributed to Saint Clement. Of historical significance also is the series of paintings which depict sense from the Council of Trent and some of the main figures of the Counter-reformation. The choir is at the north end of the presbytery and consists of a large gallery with bas-reliefs, held up by four finely-worked corbels.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.