Sant'Orso Church

Aosta, Italy

Sant'Orso had originally a single hall, delimited by a semicircular apse. It was entirely rebuilt during the 9th century, during the Carolingian age. Later, bishop Anselm of Aosta further renovated the church, introducing a basilica plan with three naves with wooden trusses. These were replaced by Gothic cross vaults in the 15th century.

The church has a nave and two aisles divided by quadrangular pillars.

The vault was rebuilt in the 15th century. Fragments of a Romanesque series of paintings are preserved in good condition in the space between the current vault and the original ceiling. These portray scenes from the New Testament as well as a martyrdom. Stylistically they resemble the bright colours and strongly marked outlines of some of the frescoes at the Galliano Basilica near Cantù. In the right aisles is a chapel houseing the altar of St. Sebastian, also with frescoes (15th century).

The cloister has historiated capitals depicting the life of Ursus. 37 of the 42 original capital remains: they were originally in white marble, though now they mostly appear in dark gray color aftery they were washed with ash paint.

The quadrangular-plan bell tower, dating to 989, has kept some the lower 15 metres of the original medieval structure. The present structure, in Romanesque style, dates to the 12th century, and has a total height of 44 metres.

The church is home to numerous missals and reliquaries, including the relics of Ursus, which rest in the crypt. It also holds the relics of Saint Gratus of Aosta.

References:

Comments

Your name



Address

Via San Orso 12, Aosta, Italy
See all sites in Aosta

Details

Founded: 9th century
Category: Religious sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Roman Blagsic (3 years ago)
Nice historical monument.
Cheryl Kaufman (3 years ago)
12th center medieval cloister with around 40 narrative sculptures including the life of St Orso/Ours the 6th c patron saint in Aosta. And the life of Jacob and Esau...with their camels?
Andrea Marinelli (3 years ago)
Vale la pena fare un salto ad ammirare questa bellissima Collegiata. Il chiostro con i capitelli intarsiati è un vero spettacolo. Anche le cripte sono molto suggestive.
Dario Lusso (3 years ago)
Beautiful church
Mario Falzon (4 years ago)
By reason of several works of hasty restoration and unmindful modification undergone over the centuries, Aosta’s Cathedral may not be a complete authentic structure of preserved Romanesque architecture but... what the cathedral misses out in architectural sublimity, the Church of St Peter and St Orso has it in bucketfuls. The church complex, reachable on foot by way of Via Sant’Orso consists of a Romanesque 11th-century brick structure (yes, the original brickwork, worn off and blackened with age is still there) that comprises the church proper, an adjoining Augustinian cloister, a squat bell tower, an excavated crypt or underground cemetery and the small stand-alone Chapel of San Lorenzo. This collection of architectural antiques in brick is regrettably condensed on a tiny square, oblique in places and with sticking-out corners in others. So, the outside view of the complex as a whole is somewhat restricted from the overlooking square. But you can still get a wonderful and complete back view if you walk a couple of minutes further east to the Arch of Augustus and then follow the Buthier stream north along Viale Federico Chabod. The view of the complex from here is the finest one may get, although it is not close enough to allow for the checking out of the architectural details. The church is a bit austere inside. But the 15th-century additions harmonized perfectly with the existing Romanesque structure and rendered the church less plain and more good-looking. The cross-vaulted ceiling is definitely a masterpiece of design. The Gothic collection of choir stalls in dark oak, carved with allegorical figures of animals and statuettes of saints is unquestionably a work of art in its own right. The highlight of the church is however the set of original frescoes that date back to the Ottonian era. Preserved in the attic but nonetheless faded and worn out in places, they can be visited on a guided tour only. The cloister on the right side of the church is the most elaborate piece of architecture in the complex. Walk along the arched passageway that borders the middle courtyard as patiently as time permits and study the biblical scenes on the capitals of the marble columns. Each scene differs from the next but together they compose the life story of Christ as depicted in the New Testament. Authentic, detailed and skillfully sculpted in marble, these are perhaps the best asset in the complex.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.