As for many Italian old cities, also in Verona many of its
treasures are kept inside churches, cases of refined and ancient works
of art and themselves jewels of architecture
of ages of the past. It is difficult to draw up a single guided
itinerary that has as its main focus the churches of Verona.
Especially because a whole day would not be enough to visit and
appreciate them all. The ideal is to agree in advance with the
guides of Verona an itinerary that includes the churches of Verona
that best suits guests' needs in terms of available time,
interests and artistic tastes.
Below we propose some ideas for better orienting the choice and planning a guided tour in the churches of Verona. They are simple indications because each place of worship, having often gone through many centuries and historical, artistic and architectural changes, almost always offers more than one topic.
Early Christian Era
As an important Roman center, the new religion in Verona had already started to spread from the first centuries of the Christian era. Immediately after the edict of Constantine (Edict of Milan - 313 AD), the Christians came out of hiding and began to build freely their places of worship. The first churches were built near the ancient public baths. The mosaic floors and part of the colonnade of these early churches, among the oldest in Veneto, can be admired in an excavation under the church of Sant'Elena and in the cloister of the Capitolare library.
The oldest church in Veneto still in use according to some
historians could be the so-called Sacello delle Sante Teuteria e
Tosca (5th century), which with its Greek cross structure still
reminds to Byzantine architecture. The building,
surrounded by a mysterious charm, is so old that to access it you
have to go down below ground level.
Further remains of early Christian Verona can be admired in the cave of Saints Nazaro e Celso and in the Hypogeum of Santa Maria in Stelle, just outside Verona.
The Romanesque in VeronaThanks to the presence of numerous and significant architectural evidence of the first centuries after the year 1000, Verona can be considered one of the capitals of the Romanesque style in Europe. Absolute masterpieces such as San Zeno, Sant'Elena, San Lorenzo, Santo Stefano, part of the Duomo, San Giovanni in Valle, with their often unique characteristics, can all become stages of an exciting journey into Romanesque architecture that in Verona takes the soft color of the tuff of Avesa and the red limestone of Valpolicella.
The Gothic in VeronaThanks to the development, also and above all economic, that Verona experienced with the Scala family lordship in 1300s, the Gothic style made its changes in the architectural style of many important city churches. Religious buildings such as Santa Anastasia, San Fermo, the Duomo itself, San Tommaso, can become stops of a guided tour to discover the Gothic in Verona.
The Renaissance in the churches of VeronaAt the beginning of fifteenth century Verona lost its independence in favor of Venice. Consequently it also lost the ability to exercise a significant patronage of the arts for the lack of a powerful ruling family. Nevertheless, thanks to the genius of Michele Sanmicheli, Verona still managed to get momentum in the artistic and architectural revolution brought by the new Renaissance style, perhaps even before the capital Venice itself. Michele Sanmicheli, while being mainly on military architect, was also able to effectively focus on urban planning and the design of civil and religious buildings. Among his masterpiece there are the church of San Giorgio, Santa Maria in Organo, the beautiful Pellegrini Chapel inside the church of San Bernardino.
San Zeno and MantegnaSan Zeno is certainly one of the most fascinating Romanesque churches in the world and houses inside what can easily be considered the most significant work of Andrea Mantegna among the fathers of the Italian Renaissance. It is a large altarpiece, divided into three sections, which depicts the Madonna and Child with Saints. The work was expressly realized for the church of San Zeno with which, thanks to the refined perspective construction, it establishes a symbiotic relationship that makes it not only a simple decoration, but a real architectural completion. In a guided tour inside the church of San Zeno are also illustrated the famous bronze panels of the portal, the ancient frescoes of the walls, the statue of the patron saint of Verona in red marble and much more.
The Duomo and Titian
In Verona, in the area in which the baths were probably located
in Roman times, there are a number of ancient Christian
buildings that together take the name of Complex of the
Dumo: Santa Maria Matricolare (the actual cathedral),
San Giovanni in Fonte (the Baptistery),
Sant'Elena, the Canonical Museum
and the Capitolare, the oldest Library. Each of
these places, for its beauty, works of art and history, deserves a
visit on its own. In any case, limiting yourself to the Duomo,
inside you can admire a splendid Assumption of the Virgin
painted by Titian which takes up the famous model of
the Frari in Venice. Also in the Duomo you can admire the frescoes
of the apse basin painted by Francesco Torbido on a design by
Giulio Romano beyond the tornacoro made by Michele
Santa Anastasia and the PisanelloSant'Anastasia is the largest church in Verona, a sumptuous project financed by the knightly nobility that gravitated around the ruling Signoria Scaligera. Inside, the chapels of noble Veronese families were decorated by some of the most important Veronese artists of the time. The most famous work preserved inside the church of Sant'Anastasia is the fresco in the Pellegrini chapel depicting St. George and the Princess, by Pisanello. Also in Santa Anastasia are works by Altichiero, Stefano da Verona, Lorenzo Veneziano, Danese Cattaneo.
San Giorgio and the VeroneseSan Giorgio, with its dome and massive bell tower designed by Michele Sanmicheli, is the most representative example of Renaissance architecture among the churches of Verona. Inside, splendid masterpieces by local artists such as Girolamo dai Libri, Giovan Francesco Caroto, Felice Brusasorzi, Paolo Farinati, and a large painting by Tintoretto: The Baptism of Jesus. The real masterpiece of the church remains, however, the Martyrdom of St. George, one of the most intense works by Paolo Veronese, although not very well known, wrapped in a mysticism and intensity that moves the viewer. The church of San Giorgio can be part of an itinerary to discover the left bank of the Adige river and which, if you wish to continue discovering Paolo Veronese, can lead to the church of San Paolo which houses the Madonna of the Marogna chapel.
Access to Churches
The visit of one or more churches in Verona can also be included as an integration and extension of a traditional guided tours of Verona.
The churches of Verona included in the Chiese Vive circuit require the payment of a small fee as an entrance ticket. For all visitors accompanied by authorized tourist guides of Verona, this entrance is discounted.
Churches that are not part of the Chiese Vive circuit may have variable opening hours and do not always correspond to what is expected. For the planning of an itinerary through the churches of Verona, it may be necessary to make a reservation or there may be changes to the program at the last moment caused by sudden and unexpected closures, services, or restoration of the churches.
Major churches are accessible to disabled people although certain areas such as the crypt, might have stairs or steps that makes impossible to access them on wheel chair.
For further information, please write to the Verona Guide Center to book a guided tour of the churches in Verona.