Named after the city’s patron saint, the Basilica of St Petronius is Bologna’s largest house of worship and dominates Piazza Maggiore with its imposing pockmarked façade. Begun in 1392, the basilica was originally intended to be larger than St Peter’s in Rome. Plans came to a halt, however, when the pope refused permission for such a grandiose scheme. The unfinished façade stares across the Piazza like a jilted bride, her rosy complexion topped by a heavy frown of bare brick. Carvings in the central door, depicting scenes from the Old and New testaments, are by Sienese artist Jacopo della Quercia. Inside, a brass meridian in the floor of the north aisle forms an ingenious solar clock – a small hole in the roof allows the sun to shine on the correct spot. Tradition has it that when the sun’s rays fall in the shape of a heart, it is time to seek a husband.
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By: kjfitz


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