Santo Stefano is the most singular complex in Bologna, as it boasts a rather original history and unusual architecture.
True city sanctuary and cradle of the faith of the fathers, it is known above all as “seven churches” because it consists of the union of several buildings built in different eras.
The origins of the complex are controversial and discussed. According to the most accredited hypothesis, Petronius was raised on the ruins of a pre-existing pagan temple, next to which a reproduction of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem was next placed and, next to the chapel with the remains of the Bolognese protomartyrs Vitale and Agricola, the buildings erected between the 10th and 13th centuries by the Benedictines.
Whatever the most reliable source, these are certainly buildings of very ancient origins, ranging from the seventh century to the fourth century, and we know that the whole complex suffered several devastations due to the invasion of the Hungarians in the tenth century and which came largely rebuilt by the Benedictines in the early 11th century. Restorations also took place in the second half of the nineteenth century and in the first decades of the following century, changing the ancient face of the entire structure.
On the square overlook the church of the Crucifix, of Lombard origin, of Calvary and of SS. Vitale e Agricola and the church of the Trinity, restored between the XII and XIII century. Inside you can also admire the Courtyard of Pilate, with a marble basin donated by Liutprando and Ilprando, king of the Lombards and the Benedictine cloister with double loggia (10th-13th centuries), one of the most superb creations of the Romanesque style in Emilia. Finally, visit the museum which houses paintings, sculptures and other works of art from various eras.