Basilica of San Lorenzo

Milan, Italy

The Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore was originally built in Roman times and is one of the oldest churches in Milan.

The basilica was built between the late fourth and early fifth centuries. The exact date is uncertain, as are the name of who commissioned it and the circumstances of its foundation. What is certain is that at the time of its construction the basilica was the largest, centrally planned building in the West. The dedication of the temple to St. Laurence (San Lorenzo) the martyr has been certified only from 590, when Milan was already controlled by the Lombards.

The eleventh and twelfth centuries were marked by numerous disasters: fires, in particular the terrible “fire of the Stork”, that in 1071 devoured the basilica, devastating the internal decorations, and earthquakes, that undermined the stability of the complex, making new restorations necessary between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Towards the middle of the eleventh century, the open space behind the basilica, called Vetra, was used as the place of executions: this practice continued until 1840. By 1167, with the construction of the medieval walls, the basilica was to be found within the city, at the new Porta Ticinese (Ticinese gate).

The basilica of San Lorenzo remained throughout the Middle Ages a symbol of the legacy of the Roman Empire in Milan. Subsequently during the age of the Renaissance, especially after the 1154 destruction of the other Ancient Roman structures by Emperor Barbarossa, the temple was an example of the classical architectural canons admired by humanists, and studied by architects and artists such as Bramante, Leonardo, and Giuliano da Sangallo. Painted references to the church from that era can be identified.

On 5 June 1573 the dome of the basilica suddenly collapsed. Construction of a new dome in a more modern style began immediately and were completed in 1619. During the reconstruction, a miracle occurred, one predicted by Archbishop Carlo Borromeo: one year after his death in 1585, a sick woman was cured in front of the icon of the Madonna del Latte, displayed on the Piazza della Vetra. Following this event, donations increased enabling more rapid progress in the reconstruction. In 1626, the Madonna del Latte was transferred to the high altar where it remains to this day.

In the 1830s the Austrian Government began a redevelopment of the Vetra: houses built leaning against the basilica and inhabited by tanners were demolished; the channel of the Vetra was covered over; and executions were abolished. After the bombings of 1944-1945 the houses that had been destroyed were not rebuilt enabling the park of the basilicas to be created, from which there is an excellent view of the complex. In 1934 in place of the demolished houses a sort of a courtyard was formed, with the creation of a public square opposite the basilica.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: c. 364 AD
Category: Religious sites in Italy

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Juan P. R. (2 years ago)
Great spot to get a beer at night.
Danilo Djilas (2 years ago)
Amazing and beautiful. Great walk from Navigli to Duomo.
Evelyn Chao (2 years ago)
The St. Aquilino chapel is closed under renovation. Otherwise it’s a tranquil historical church to visit.
Victor Wang (2 years ago)
The church is a fantastic spot with beautiful vaulted ceilings and large open spaces. Absolutely loved all the paintings and statues.
Raminta B. (2 years ago)
Beautiful sight to see when walking by. It's surprisingly quiet and relaxing even though it's right next to the street, so you can sit down there for a little while. You can also go inside, it's free.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.