The churches

The artistic patrimony embodied by the numerous churches of Verona is extremely rich. Whether they occupy the entire side of a square, forcing the visitors to throw their heads back to appreciate the enormous façade silhouetted against the sky, or whether they blend in among the low buildings that line the narrow streets, all of them are worth a visit. The best known, the largest, are true architectural masterpieces of grace and majesty, embellished with details, coloured marbles, sculptures, friezes, columns with varied and fancy capitals, bronze castings, paintings, statues…the whole range of votive art which over the millennia has represented the history of Christianity. First of all the Basilica di San Zeno, one of the greatest architectural monuments of Verona and certainly the most beautiful Northern Italian Romanesque church. The start of construction dates back to the 4th century, when a shrine was built to preserve the remains of Zeno, bishop of Verona; in 1138 the church was enlarged and rebuilt in part as a result of the earthquake of 1117. Built initially in the suburban area along the Via Gallica, in 1145 the crenellated tower that can still be seen by its side was built in its defence. It is a masterpiece of perfect proportions, embellished and decorated with grace, full of wonderful works. It should be admired at dusk when the sunset gives the marble façade amazing shades of pink. San Fermo Maggiore, original in its beauty and importance, includes both a lower (1065) and upper church (11th century, façade from 1350). During Roman times, the Baths stood where the Duomo (cathedral) stands today. It is an interesting complex of religious buildings built in successive layers, all visible and accessible to the public. The first paleo-Christian church is dated 774 AD, when the church of Santa Maria Matricolare was built above it. The Duomo has been retouched and modified over successive eras, while the double porch that adorns the façade dates back to 1139. Santa Anastasia, the basilica of the Scaliger court, was built between the end of the 1200s and the first part of the 1400s; its brick facade is embellished by a double Gothic portal which is only a prelude to the many treasures that lie within. There is also Santo Stefano (5th century), the Santissima Trinità (11th century); the tiny San Giovanni In Foro (8th century); San Giovanni In Valle, a Christian church rebuilt after the earthquake of 1117 which retains paleo-Christian elements; Santa Maria in Organo, which already existed during the Longobard period with its incredible renaissance choir with wood inlays; the Shrine of Santa Teuteria and Tosca (12th century) which is less known than others but is one of the most important Romanesque buildings in northern Italy…and many, many more which can be discovered gradually as we are transported by the magic of Verona.