In the alleys of the ancient market, among art, colors and tastes.
The Quadrilatero is the heart of the historical center in Bologna: one of the most ancient areas of the city, born for the development of handcraft and trade. It is bordered by piazza Maggiore and from the side of Basilica di San Petronio and goes along via dell’Archiginnasio and piazza Galvani, from via Rizzoli, from piazza della Mercanzia, via Castiglione and from via Farini.
The Quadrilatero is a crossroads of narrow streets arranged on the basis of a roman plan that are the proof, still today, with their original names of the ensemble of activities and trade that developed in the past centuries: for example via degli Orefici, via Pescherie Vecchie, via Drapperie, via Calzolerie.And still today the jeweleries, the typical Bologna delicatessen shops, the butcheries, and other handcraft activities that give life to the daily routine of the Quadrilatero together with coffee shops where you can stop and have a snack according to the Petronian tradition.
Among ancient shops and bars it is possible to admire a work of art unique for expressive power and sculptural quality: it is the Compianto by Niccolò dell’Arca, which can be seen in the chiesa di Santa Maria della Vita in via Clavature, 10.
The building dates back to the half 13th century, while the work of art by Niccolò dell’Arca dates back to 1463.
The Compianto su Cristo morto is a sculpture made of earthenware composed of seven statues at natural size: dead Christ surrounded by Nicodemo, Salomè, Our Lady, Saint John; Mary of Cheofa and Mary Magdalene.
The statues were originally painted in polychrome, as there are still some marks of color, but probably the natural earthenware gives a stronger impression of the statues around the dead Christ.
The original order of the scene isn’t documented with certainty and of consequence the current arrangement of the statues is the result of deductive studies.
The Quadrilatero is bordered by some of the most important monuments and buildings in Bologna, starting from those that surround piazza Maggiore, like Palazzo Re Enzo so called because Enzo of Swabia was imprisoned there for 23 years, king of Sardinia and son of the emperor Federico II.
Enzo (1220-1272) was taken during Fossalta battle near Modena in 1249 and he was never set free, notwithstanding his powerful emperor father’s menaces, money and promises.
The building dates back to the half of 1200 and it was restored, for the last time, in 1905 by Alfonso Rubbiani. It is part of the same complex the Palazzo del Podestà: on the back of this palace there are two streets that create the Voltone del Podestà on which there is the torre dell’Arengo, on its top there is the Campanazzo, the historical bell that rang for the town assemblies on special occasions.
In front of Palazzo Re Enzo there is the Fontana del Nettuno, by Giambologna (Jean de Boulogne 1529-1608) created in 1563: the original design of the statue is exhibited in the nearby Museo Civico Medievale.
On the west side of the square there is Palazzo D’Accursio the Town Hall, while the most beautiful side is the Palazzo dei Notai the ancient seat of the guild as it is shown on the coat of arms on the façade with the three ink pots and quills, and Basilica di San Petronio the last example of gothic architecture and the sixth christian church in the world for dimension.
It was dedicated to the Bishop, the patron Saint of the town, and was begun in 1390 by Antonio Di Vincenzo (1350-1402).
The unique façade remained uncompleted and it has in the lower part a marble base on which there are three portals. Inside there are 22 chapels dedicated to the most important bolognese families that contributed to its building and it has got a unique characteristic: on the floor of the left nave there is the biggest sundial in the world (67 meters of length) for the study of the sun revolutions, studied through a hole created on the dome at more than 27 meters of height. It was created in 1655 by the astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini that taught astronomy at Bologna University.
In this church in 1530 pope Clemente VII crowned Charles V emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
Looking at the façade of the church, on the left we find Palazzo dei Banchi the newest building of the square: it is a very imposing façade created to cover the alleys of the market on the back. It was designed by Jacopo Barozzi called il Vignola, it dates back to the second half of 16th century. The façade is composed of fifteen arches, two of which with a wide vault give the passage to the Quadrilatero through via Clavature and via Pescherie Vecchie.
The arches of Palazzo dei Banchi are part of the Portico del Pavaglione and in the side via dell’Archiginnasio there is the Museo Civico Archeologico that houses the most important remains of the villanovian, etruscan, gallic, and roman civilizations.
Under the Pavaglione there is Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio built in 1562 by Antonio Morandi, a bolognese architect, called Terribilia. Until 1803 there was the university from 1838 there is the Biblioteca Civica. Inside the palace there is the Teatro Anatomico, an awesome amphitheatre designed in 1637 for the anatomy lessons of the architect from Bologna Antonio Paolucci called Levanti enriched with the statues by Ercole Lelli.
At few meters from the Archiginnasio, there is piazza Galvani and in front of the beautiful statue of the bolognese scientist (1737-1798) famous for his studies on the muscular electricity, there is the great vault of the entrance of Corte dè Galluzzi, that still today represents what it had to be, almost a private fort belonging to a powerful family, the Galuzzis. This stone tower is the symbol of the strength and of the wealth of the family: built in 1257 it is situated in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by palaces even if in the origin the houses (still made of wood) should be situated nearer the tower.
It’s really the last fortified bastion in which it is possible to take refuge in case of attack as it is 30 mt high, the walls are of an unusual thickness and there is no access except for the little door at a height of about ten metres into which it was to possible to enter thanks to wooden projecting roofs of the windows of the adjacent buildings.
Under the door it is possible to see the holes for the poles of the projecting roofs. The entrance door on the ground floor has been built recently and today there is a coffee shop and it’s possible to see the walls of this impregnable tower.
The Corte is connected to via D’Azeglio and going on the street, with San Petronio on the back, after few meters, at n. 52 there is chiesa di San Procolo, one of the oldest in Bologna. The first building dates back to the first christian period and during the centuries there were several changes from the gothic in the 14th century to the renewal by Antonio Morandi and Domenico Tibaldi in the 16th century up to the transformations made by Antonio Torreggiani in 1741.
In front of the major altar there is the San Procolo’s sarcophagus with the remains of the Saint, one of the first christian martyrs and the interior of the church is enriched by works by Lippo di Dalmasio, Bartolomeo Cesi and Giuseppe Pedretti.
At few steps in via Tagliapietre, 19 there is the chiesa del Corpus Domini, known as the church of the Saint because it keeps the corpse of Santa Caterina dè Vigri (1413-1463) that founded the first convent of nuns belonging to clarisse order in Bologna. She was beloved in life as her worship started after her death, long time before she became Saint in 1712.
The church was built in 1477, while the interior was restored two centuries later and it was enriched with paintings by Marcantonio Franceschini e Ludovico Carracci. There are also the tombs of Luigi Galvani and Laura Bassi, one of the first scientist women in the 17th century. Anyway the interest is all for the chapel of the Saint that preserves Caterina’s incorrupt body placed in a sitting position.
Nearby there is another church that is a gallery of bolognese art between 14th and the 18th century, with works by Vitale da Bologna, Lippo di Dalmasio, Simone dei Crocifissi, Alessandro Tiarini, Francesco Gessi, Guercino e Giuseppe Maria Crespi: it is the chiesa del Santissimo Salvatore on the corner between via Cesare Battisti e via Porta Nova.
The building has very ancient origins, and the present appearance dates back to the restorations of the beginning of the 17th century by the architect Giovanni Ambrogio Magenta with the collaboration of Tommaso Martelli.
The style seems to close the renaissance period and to start with the baroque one and this church shows the passage between the two architectural styles. The interior is rich of works of art among which the famous polyptych by Vitale da Bologna with the coronation of the Virgin, the Madonna della Vittoria by Simone dei Crocifissi and San Domenico attributed to Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) who was buried in this church, as can be seen on the grave on the floor of the nave.
PLACES TO BE VISITED
• Shops and bars in the medieval alleys
• Museo Civico Archeologico
• Fontana del Nettuno
• Chiesa di San Petronio
• Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio
• Chiesa del Santissimo Salvatore
NOT TO BE MISSED
• Compianto by Niccolò dell’Arca
• The Sundial inside San Petronio
• Teatro Anatomico in Palazzo dell’Archiginnasio
• Santa Caterina dè Vigri’s corpse in the Chiesa della Santa
• San Domenico by Guercino in the Chiesa del Santissimo Salvatore
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