Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore

The Great Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore is one of the most important Romanesque basilicas in northern Italy and the most architecturally important church in Verona. This large Romanesque basilica, with cloisters and a separate bell tower, was part of a Benedictine monastery where the Roman emperors of Germany often lived. The amazing building is easy to admire even without understanding all the symbolism behind the art and style elements.

Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore

Patron saint

The first church was erected here in the fourth century to house the remains of Saint Zeno, but the current building is mostly from the twelfth century, although the apse and roof are from the late fourteenth century. A separate belfry was completed in 1178, and the cloisters date from 1123 to 1313. Saint Zeno (c. 300–380) was a native of North Africa, but spent most of his life in Verona, first as a monk and then as a bishop. He is associated with fishing and is therefore often depicted with a fishing rod.

West facade of San Zeno Maggiore in Verona

Romanesque elements typical of this region have been preserved on the western façade. Two columns are placed on the backs of two lions - justice and faith, which guard the church so that evil elements cannot enter. The marble bas-reliefs depict images from the Bible, as well as early medieval themes. In the center of the tympanum of San Zeno Maggiore, the inhabitants of Verona are depicted, which was a good policy at a time when Verona was a city-state. The roof covering helped protect much of the paintwork. However, the artistic highlight here are the magnificent bronze doors. Of the approximately 20 such doors surviving in non-Byzantine Europe, they are considered among the best. The exact artist and origin of the doors are unclear.

Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore

Place of burial

The crypt of San Zeno Maggiore is very large, atypical for the region and clearly inspired by the Kaiserd (Imperial Cathedral) in Speyer, which was the main center of the Salian emperors who ruled the Holy Roman Empire at the time the present church was built. This is the oldest part of the church, partly dating back to the 10th century. Note the individually carved capitals of 49 columns. The crypt contains the remains of St. Zeno, which are paraded on his feast day (April 12) or in Verona on May 21 in honor of the transfer of his relic to the crypt on May 21, 807. According to legend, Romeo and Juliet from Shakespeare's poetry were married in the crypt.

Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore
Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore - geographical coordinates
Latitude: 45.4425
Longitude: 10.979167


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