San Michele Maggiore Church

Pavia, Italy

The Basilica of San Michele Maggiore is one of the most striking example of Lombard-Romanesque style. It dates from the 11th and 12th centuries.

A first church devoted to St. Michael Archangel was built on the location of the Lombard Palace chapel (to this period belongs the lower section of the bell tower), but it was destroyed by a fire in 1004. The current construction was begun in the late 11th century (crypt, choir and transept) and was completed by 1155. The vaults of the nave, originally with two grossly squared groin-vaulted spans, were replaced in 1489 by the design of master architect Agostino de Candia in four rectangular spans, and the structure was created by his father the renown Pavia master mason Iacopo da Candia.

The basilica was the seat of numerous important events, including the coronations of Louis III (900) and Frederick Barbarossa (1155), among the others.

Architecture

San Michele Maggiore can be considered the prototype of other important medieval churches in Pavia such as San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro and San Teodoro. However, it differentiates from latter in the use of sandstone instead of bricks, and for the Latin cross plan with a nave and two aisles and a much extended transept. San Michele's transept, provided with a true façade, a false apse and a barrel vault different from the rest of the church, constitutes a nearly independent section of the edifice. Also its length (38 m, compared to the 55 m of the whole basilica), contributes to this impression.

At the crossing of nave and transept is the octagonal dome, a 30 m-high asymmetrical structure supported on squinches, in the Lombard-Romanesque style. It is reportedly the earliest example of this form in Lombardy. The façade is decorated by numerous sandstone sculptures, of religious or profane themes; they are however now much deteriorated. The façade has five double and two single mullioned windows and a cross, which are a 19th-century reconstruction of what was thought be the original scheme. Bas reliefs in horizontal bands portray human, animal and fantastic figures. Over the minor portals are portrayed St. Ennodius, bishop of Pavia, and St. Eleucadius, archbishop of Ravenna. In the lunettes are angels which, according to a caption sculpted there, have the role of ambassadors of the faithful's words into heaven.

The nave has four spans. The aisles have matronaea with statical function. The four chapels in correspondence of the second and four spans of the aisles are a later addition. under the apse, which has a large 16th-century fresco, is the high altar (1383) housing the remains of Sts. Ennodius and Eleucadius. The presbytery has fragments of a notable pavement mosaic with the Labours of the Months and mythological themes.

The crypt, with a nave and two aisles, is located immediately under the altar: it houses beautifully decorated capitals and the monument of the Blessed Martino Salimbene (1491).

References:

Comments

Your name



Address

Piazzetta Azzani 2, Pavia, Italy
See all sites in Pavia

Details

Founded: 11th century
Category: Religious sites in Italy

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Alfonso Leone (2 years ago)
Fanstastico
Svitlana Galeshchuk (3 years ago)
Beautiful romanic church in the heart of Pavia. It's worth to pay it a visit.
Svitlana Galeshchuk (3 years ago)
Beautiful romanic church in the heart of Pavia. It's worth to pay it a visit.
Adam Granicz (3 years ago)
Stunning architecture, makes one feel small and insignificant. Amazing frescos and lots of history everywhere.
Adam Granicz (3 years ago)
Stunning architecture, makes one feel small and insignificant. Amazing frescos and lots of history everywhere.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Seaplane Harbour Museum

The Seaplane Harbour is the newest and one of the most exciting museums in Tallinn. It tells stories about the Estonian maritime and military history. The museum’s display, that comprises of more than a couple of hundred large exhibits, revitalizes the colourful history of Estonia.

British built submarine Lembit weighing 600 tones is the centrepiece of the new museum. Built in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served in the World War II under the Soviet flag. It remained in service for 75 years being the oldest submarine in the World still in use until it was hauled ashore in 2011. Despite its long history, Lembit is still in an excellent condition offering a glimpse of the 1930s art of technology.

Another exciting attraction is a full-scale replica of Short Type 184, a British pre-World War II seaplane, which was also used by the Estonian armed forces. Short Type 184 has earned its place in military history by being the first aircraft ever to attack an enemy’s ship with an air-launched torpedo. Since none of the original seaplanes have survived, the replica in Seaplane Harbour is the only full-size representation of the aircraft in the whole World.

Simulators mimicking a flight above Tallinn, around-the-world journey in the yellow submarine, navigating on the Tallinn bay make this museum heaven for kids or adventurous adults.

Seaplane Harbour operates in architecturally unique hangars built almost a century ago, in 1916 and 1917, as a part of Peter the Great sea fortress. These hangars are the World’s first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a great size. Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in 1930s.

On the outdoor area visitors can tour a collection of historic ships, including the Suur Tõll, Europe's largest steam-powered icebreaker.