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Unesco World Heritage Site of Modena

Modena

CATHEDRAL, TOWER AND PIAZZA GRANDE: UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Construction of Modena’s Cathedral (or Duomo) began in 1099. Consecrated by Pope Lucius III in 1184, the Cathedral is a masterpiece of the European Romanesque, notable both for Lanfranco’s architectural design and for the marble reliefs on the façade sculpted by Wiligelmus. Modifications to the original project were undertaken between the 12th and 14th centuries by stoneworkers and builders known as the Campionese Masters. The facade is divided into three areas that correspond to the nave and two aisles within. Below the rose window (12th century), the “Portale Maggiore” (main door), carved by Wiligelmus and additionally decorated by four stone panels containing stories from the Book of Genesis, opens into the Cathedral.

Two side gates - the Porta deiPrincipi (“Princes’ Gate”), created by the so-called “San Geminiano Master” and by followers of Wiligelmus, and the Porta Regia in pink Verona marble - decorate the Cathedral’s southern flank. The Porta dellaPescheria is located on the northern flank and bears evidence of Burgundian influence. The Cathedral’s interior includes a marble parapet with sculpted reliefs by Anselmo da Campione (dating to c. 1160-1180) and a terracotta crèche by the Modena-born sculptor Antonio Begarelli (1527). The Cathedral’s crypt houses the tomb of Modena’s patron saint, Geminianus, as well as the Madonna dellaPappa, a crèche in polychrome terracotta by Guido Mazzoni (1480). Construction of the initial floors of the Ghirlandina Tower was finished by 1169 and building was completed in 1319 by the Campionese Masters. Eighty-seven meters in height (about 285 feet), the Tower played a role in civic life from its very beginning: custodians signaled from the Tower for the opening or closing of the city’s gates and kept watch over the commune’s treasury.

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