San Petronio's Basilica

San Petronio's Basilica in bolognaThe Basilica is the main church in Bologna and is located on the south side of Piazza Maggiore. It is dedicated to San Petronio, Patron Saint of Bologna.  He was bishop of Bologna from 431 to 450AD.


The city authorities acknowledged that, thanks to him the "small Jerusalem of Bologna" was built.

Originally, the Saint had been buried in Santo Stefano's church but in 1743 his body, by order of Pope Benedetto XIV,  was moved inside the Basilica.

The church, that houses the artistic history of the city, from the first prosperous gothic years to the more difficult times of papal political power down to the baroque phase known as "experimental", enjoys unusually large dimensions.  Its scale makes it the 6th largest church in Europe.

The project was given to Antonio Di Vincenzo, a local architect and in 1390, work started. However In 1514, a new plan was designed by  Arduino degli Arriguzzi that favoured the shape of the Latin cross. This would have increased the size of the church far more than the original plan had envisaged and if completed on that scale, the church in Bologna would have been larger than Saint Peter's in Vatican.  At this stage, papal opposition manifested itself and the Pope rejected the plan in favour of building on a smaller scale within the Archiginnasio .

Work proceeded very slowly because of lack of finances from time to time and so many of the parts that make up the church were completed at different stages of a long period of time.  The upper part of the main entrance is still unfinished.

The portals feature some bas-reliefs by Jacopo della Quercia, picturing the Genesi and the New Testament and they are so perfect that Michelangelo studied them in order to make similar ones for the Sistine Chapel.

The Basilica houses also a sundial dating back to 1655 and the Four Crosses that, according to the legend, Petronio had on the 4 cardinal points of the city, to defend it from a spiritual point of view.

Another point of interest is the prestigious that can be seen inside the Basilica. It was built around 1470 by Lorenzo Prato and it is the oldest working organ in the world.

Visiting the Basilica

ADDRESS: Piazza Maggiore, Bologna

Every day from 8 am to 12 midday and from 3 pm to 6 pm

The church can be visited if there are no religious celebrations

COST: admission free
PHONE: 051 231415

Map from Park View B&B to the Basilica