San Luca's Portico and Basilica

Basilica Madonna di San Luca in Bologna. Park View Bed and breakfastSaint Luke's basilica is the first monument that can be seen when approaching Bologna , no matter which direction one is coming from and to the Bolognesi  it is the first sign that they are finally  home.


San Luca's Basilica

San Luca 's Basilica is situated on the La Guardia's hill, about 300 metres above the city. It is dedicated to the cult of the Virgin Mary and from the very beginning, it has been a favourite destination for pilgrims devoted to image of the Virgin with the Child, known as " San Luca's Madonna "

The basilica was built on a site where, since the 1400s, existed a religious building called Santa Maria della Guardia and where, according to religious tradition, the famous "miracle of the rain" took place.

The reported miracle helped to promote and raise the esteem of the basilica among pilgrims.

At the time, spring rains were endangering the harvests and the risk of famine was becoming very real, so it was decided to organise a procession to ask for the rain to cease. The whole population turned out for the procession that started in pouring rain but at the very time that the procession entered the church the rain ceased. Since then every year the rite of the procession is performed at Ascension time (Whit weekend).

The church was constructed between 1723 and 1757 using the designs of Carlo Francesco Dotti. Naturally, since then numerous restorations, consolidations and enlargements have taken place. The main style of the building is baroque and the outside has simple clean lines, typical of the Bolognese  architectural style.

The Basilica was granted the status of National Monument in 1874 and it was upgraded from church to basilica by Pope Pious X in 1907.

San Lucas's Portico

The portico starts at Porta Saragozza and continues right up to the Basilica. A length of 3796 metres stretching along its 666 numbered arches, makes it the longest arcade in the entire world.

It was built between 1674 and 1721 and the whole population of Bologna contributed to building it. When the building started, it was necessary to carry all building materials by way of a human chain of men, women and youngsters. To this day, this gesture of solidarity symbolises the ability of the community to overcome obstacles together and it is repeated every year in October by the local school classes, citizens and voluntary workers, who hand in hand perform San Luca's walk.

Points of interest

  • The portico is dotted with many inscriptions that commemorate the miracles experienced by ordinary people.
  • The number of the arches, i.e. 666, has a strong symbolic meaning and from high up the portico resembles a snake whose head is symbolically stamped upon by the Virgin Mary in the Basilica.

Visiting San Luca

ADDRESS: Via di S. Luca 36, Bologna, Italia


  • November to February: Weekdays from 6.30am – 12.30pm and from 2.30pm – 5.00 pm
  • March to October: Weekdays from 6.30am –12.30pm  and from 2.30pm – 7.00pm
  • Sundays and bank holidays: 12.30pm -  2.30 pm

Admission  Free

PHONE: 051 6142339


Map from B&B to Arco del Meloncello