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Basilica San Zeno in Verona

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San Zeno Church
San Zeno church, dedicated to the saint patron of Verona is one of the oldest churches of Verona and of Italy too. The legend says that a first small church was erected on the patron's tomb in 380, but the present building's history begins in 9th century. The Basilica was damaged or destroyed by a Magyar invasion in the early 10th century and in 967, a new Romanesque edifice was built by Bishop Raterius on the same site. On January 3, 1117 the church was damaged by the worst earthquake that hit Verona during its history, and it was restored and enlarged in 1138.
This building is unique because of its architecture, in fact, the interior of the church is on three levels: the crypt, the central church and the presbytery.
The crypt has always hosted the body of St. Zeno except during a short period after the Magyar invasion when Zeno's body was moved to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Matricolare. Now, the body is visible in a sarcophagus, the face covered by a silver mask.
St Zeno Crypt

The central church is known as Chiesa plebana, it is of the Latin Cross shape with a nave, two aisles and transept.

St Zeno Abbey in Verona - view from central church

The presbytery is raised on an arcade above the crypt that remains visible from the nave. The presbytery is accessible by stairs in the aisles.

View of the interior of St. Zeno church from the presbytery
This Abbey is very famous also because of its facade. As a matter of fact, centrally to the upper facade there is a rose window, in the shape of a wheel of fortune that is one of the earliest examples in the Romanesque architecture of such a structure that was to become a particular feature of Gothic architecture.
 
Basilica of San Zeno from outside
The most important artwork of San Zeno church is the polyptych by Andrea Mantegna, known as San Zeno Altarpiece, a masterpiece by one of the most famous artists that Verona hosted in the past.
If you visit Verona, this church is a must.
 
Mantegna altarpiece in St Zeno
St Zeno Church from inside
 
St Zeno Cloister

 

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