The Santa Maria Matricola Cathedral in Verona actually consists of a complex of a number of ancient buildings. The oldest of these buildings can even be traced back to Roman times. Most of them, however, date from the early Christian period. In the 12th century the cathedral took on its present form.
Santa Maria Matricola Cathedral Verona
Address, opening hours and entrance fee
Address: Piazza Duomo, 21 – 37121 Verona. Telephone: +39 045592813. Opening Hours: From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays and public holidays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Entrance fee: Entrance Cathedral + Canonical Museum: 2.50 Euro; discount: 2 Euro; children 0-11: free. Verona Card: free of charge. There is also a kind of combi-church ticket for the Cathedral, the San Zeno Maggiore Church, the Sant’Anastasia Basilica and the San Fermo Maggiore Church, which costs 6 Euros and is well worth it.
A first version of the Duomo was built around the middle of the 4th century. It is however not known what this church looked like. In the time that Saint Zeno was bishop, this church was completely rebuilt to create space for the then fast growing Christian community in Verona.
Ruins of both early versions of the church can still be seen under the present Sant’Elena Church.
A new church was built in the 8th century. This was to be the origin of the present cathedral. A renovation in the 12th century ensured that it more or less got its current appearance. This reconstruction was necessary because an earthquake in 1117 had caused great damage.
The Romanesque façade consists of three parts. The large entrance gate is preceded by a wide protiro. Above, an equally wide loggia can also be seen. Both the protiro and the loggia were designed by Nicolò in 1139. The protiro consists of an arch resting on alternating white and pink columns. The sides of this arch are decorated with sculptures, including figures of saints and hunting scenes. On the vault of the arch are bas-reliefs depicting the symbols of the Evangelists. The upper part of the protiro is made of volcanic tuff stone. This also round arch is supported by 8 columns and 2 griffins.
There is another protiro on the side, at the bottom of the bell tower designed by Michel Sanmicheli. This entrance dates from the 12th century and is richly decorated with bas-reliefs and 14th century frescoes.
The apse was made of tuff stone, also in the 12th century. The monofora’s date from the 16th century.
Unfortunately the enormous church square has been turned into a parking lot.
The interior of the cathedral was redecorated in the 15th century. The three naves are separated by red marble columns with Gothic arches.
The first three chapels on each side were designed by Giovanni Maria Falconetta between 1465 and 1504, and constitute one architectural unit.
The central nave ends in the Cappella Maggiore. The elegant round marble partition of this chapel was designed by Sanmicheli in 1534. The frescoes have the “life of Mary” as their theme. They were painted by Francesco Torbido, who used sketches by Giulio Romano.
Several Renaissance artists contributed to the decorations of the side chapels.
The main attraction of the Cartolari-Nichesola Chapel is the “Assumption of Mary” by Titian. The marble sepulchre is attributed to Sansovino.
In the Mazzanti Chapel you can see the Sarcophagus of Sant’Agata made in 1353.
The left nave leads to an atrium which itself is divided by six antique columns into three small ships. In the atrium one can still see fragments of early Christian floor mosaics.