I came to Modena for the first time, for just two nights, in November 2020, during the second Covid lockdown.
Fortunately the restaurants were still open for lunch so I’ve written two posts about them here and here. This post is the first of three I’ve written about things I saw while I was walking around, all of which are marked on my Google map.
First I headed for Piazza Grande, and the central square of the town, where you’ll find the Duomo di Modena (Cathedral) and the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall). Taken together, the square and the two buildings are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Palazzo Comunale has a 15th-century clock tower, the Torre Dell’Orologio.
The 12th-century cathedral, built by the architect Lanfranco, is considered a primary example of early Romanesque art.
The cathedral’s bell tower (1224–1319) is the symbol of the city. It’s called the Torre delle Ghirlandina after the bronze garland that surrounds its weathercock.
The original front entrance of the cathedral is on Piazza Duomo. The majestic rose-window is a 13th century addition by Anselmo da Campione.
The porch is supported by two column-bearing lions which are possibly of ancient origin or perhaps copies of Roman sculptures.
The façade is famous for its reliefs by Wiligelmus, a contemporary of Lanfranco, and are considered masterpieces of Romanesque sculpture.
There are portraits of prophets and patriarchs, but most renowned are the panels telling biblical stories.
A second monumental entrance, the Porta Regia, opens onto Piazza Grande. It’s the work of Campione and his heirs, known as collectively as ‘the Campione masters‘, and is datable between 1209 and 1231. The upper floor of the porch is a monumental loggia with three arches supported by columns with Corinthian capitals.
The two Campione lions that support the porch are depicted in the act of devouring prey.
More detailed carvings can be seen around the portal.
Inside the cathedral is divided into three naves. The pulpit in the central nave is by Arrigo da Campione.
Many more beautiful works can be seen around the interior. Click to expand.
The funeral of Luciano Pavarotti, the famed tenor who was a native of Modena, was held in the cathedral.
More walking around in part two…