The Churches

The Dome of Modena

This Romanesque cathedral was built on the sepulcher of San Geminiano (the Protector of Modena) according to the project of the Architect Lanfranco of 1099. Beside it there is bell-tower Ghirlandina.

Ghirlandina Tower

This tower is the bell-tower of Modena's Dome, it is 86 meters high and is the symbol of the city. It was built starting from 1179, together with San Geminiano Tower (elevated in the next two centuries) and in 1997 it has been awarded as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At the end of the 18th century it was repaired and renovated between 2008 and 2011.

Chiesa di San Vincenzo

San Vincenzo Church was erected in 1617 on a previous church (dated back to 1200).

This church was believed to have been designed by the architect Guarino Guarini, from Modena, who was born actually seven years later. They later discovered that the project was signed by Paolo Reggiano and later by Bernardo Castagnini, who maybe worked with the young Guarini. 

In the church you can admire the paintings of Sigismondo Caula (with building painted by Sebastiano Sansone), showing the lives of Saints Vincenzo and Gaetano from Thiene, the latter founded, indeed, the Theatine Order to whom the church was entrusted (the dome, painted by Caula himselft and Tommaso Costa was destroyed during the war).

In the church, in the first chapel on the left, there was once a painting of Guerino, that has been stolen in 2014. Fortunately the painting has been later found in Casablanca (Marocco) in March of 2017, although it was badly damaged.

After its renovation you will have the chance to see it again in San Vincenzo church, which hosts also the funerary monuments of Estensi Dukes 

Santa Maria della Pomposa Church - Aedes Muratoriana

This is one of the oldest churches in the city (dated back to 1153). However there are very few original elements of that period in the building. On the facade there are some traces of the ancient Romanesque door, that was later closed. You can see also the terracotta capitals, a part of the round arch and parts of the decorations. The solid tower beside the church (that was deemed to be part of the castle) is now cut off.

This church is very important as it used to be the seat of the parish and Ludovico Antonio Muratori's home (the historian of Modena, who was also priest here from 1716 to 1750).

Muratori decided to dedicate himself to the people the poorest districts of the city, although he was already a famous writer and scholar.

When the church was renovated Muratori added the choir to the structure. Inside there are also paintings of 1600 and 1700 about San Sebastiano, made by Bernardino Cervi and Francesco Vellani. 

The church and its rectory (where Muratori lived) belong now to the architectural complex of Aedes Muratoriana (house of the bricklayers) and is also seat of the Deputation of Italian History and of the Muratorian Museum.

Modena's inhabitants showed their love for L. A. Muratori building a monument for him. You can see it in Largo Muratori on Via Emilia. This monument was made by Adeodato Malatesta, who didn't want to be paid for it. This sculpture portrays Muratori in a thoughtful position, expressing his deep humanity.

Church of the vow

On the left side of the church you can see a painting of Ludovico Lana, showing and recalling the plague epidemy in 1630, that chronicles said it caused the death of 200 people a day. This church, whose name is church of the vow, is bound to this fact. The city of Modena and the Duke Francesco I d'Este made, indeed, a vow. The Municipality of Modena swore to build a church after the end of the epidemic and the duke decided to dedicate it to Madonna della Ghiara - protector of Reggio (Reggio was fortunately not badly stricken by the epidemic)

After the end of the epidemic the architect Cristoforo Galaverna from Modena designed, then, the church according to a hybrid style and with a dome. Its construction began in 1634.

Ludovico Lana painted the above mentioned altarpiece painting recalling the epidemic, where you can see scenes of the plague epidemic, in the lower part and in the upper part the following ones: the Virgin with the Child, saints, angels and a plate portraying the offer given from city, which can be recognized by Modena's Town Hall and the bell towers of the Dome.

Sant'Agostino Church

Inside you can see a painting of 1300 made by Tommaso da Modena.

This church is beside the Museums Palace and is in Sant'Agostino Square. It is also called Pantheon Atestinum because of its statues dedicated to saints belonging to Este Family.

It was built in 1300 (on a previous church of the Augustinians - founded in 1245), however there are few original parts (you can see them on the left side on the building), its style recalls, indeed, the one of 1600. The church was modified in 1663 by will of the Duchesse Laura Martinozzi, who wanted to celebrate there the funeral of her husband - the Duke Alfondo IV.  The simple original structure of 1300 was thus decorated with stuccoes and a paneled ceiling, on which many artists painted portraits of saints and noble people.

The terracotta sculptures of the Deposition from the Cross (1476; in the first chapel on the right) is a remarkable masterpiece of Antonio Begarelli from Modena.

Another trace of the ancient original structure is visible inside the church and it is the painting of Madonna della Consolazione made by Tommaso da Modena. Maria is portrayed in the delicate moment of nursing the Child.

San Carlo Church

San Carlo Church was built starting from 1664 according to the project of Bartolomeo Avanzini and later of Giovanni Pietro Piazza (the master builder), who was charged of it after Avanzini's death.

It took more than a century to complete the church's construction, which was first consecrated in 1766. This building is a smaller example of San Carlo ai Catinari Church in Roma (except from the dome) and was built for Collegio San Carlo (called also Collegio dei Nobili - founded in 1626). The facade is made of bricks with marble ornaments and triangular tympanum. Inside there are three aisles supported by arches and delimited by four large central structures supporting the church's dome.

The main altar is made of red marble from Verona, dated back to 1828. 

Antonio Traeri, called Il Castellino, made the monumental stucco decorations of the apse, where you can also admire the painting of Marcantonio Franceschini about the plague in Milan in 1576: Madonna with Child in Heaven, under them there are scenes of the plague epidemic and San Carlo Borromeo praying near the Cross.

After several interventions and renovations (the last one in 1980) the church has now become an auditorium.

San Carlo Church is part of a wider structure, called Complesso di San Carlo with a chapel, a theater, a library and an amazing porch, where the Foundation Collegio San Carlo "Collegio dei Nobili di San Carlo" has its headquarter. This Foundation has a research center and deals with many cultural and educational projects, especially focused on philosophy, human, social and religious sciences.

San Giovanni Battista Church

This is the only ancient church in Modena completely isolated, as there are no other buildings beside its walls (except from the Cathedral). You can find San Giovanni Battista Church on the corner between Via Emilia and Matteotti Square. 

It was built during 1500 on a previous church dedicated to San Michele, however the structure itself and the decorations (the elliprical and not circular shape of dome) reveal the modifications made during 1700. 

Take a look at the remarkable organ made by Agostino Traeri and at the polychromatic statues of Guido Mazzoni - the Deposition from the Cross (1476)

San Francesco Church

The Franciscan Friars arrived in Modena very soon: chronicles say there was already a monastery outside the city's walls in 1221, when Francesco d'Assisi was still alive.

The church was built slowly: it started in 1244 and two centuries later it wasn't finished yet. [21] The outer structure has a simple gothic style, which is mostly visible on the front side of the church (whose aspect is more or less like the original one - thanks to renovation intervention during 1800). The inner structure has been modified: you can see 13 amazing statues in the dramatic moment of the Deposition from the Cross, made by Begarelli.

In front of the church there is a nice fountain made by Giuseppe Graziosi (1920) with the statue of San Francesco.

San Pietro Church

The tradition says that the Church was built on an old temple dedicated to Giove Capitolino. This Church was actually built starting from 1476, according to the project of the architect Pietro Barabani from Carpi and was consecrated in 1518.[22] It is a nice example of Renaissance architecture in Modena (and it is also one of the most beautiful churches in the city). Inside you can see an organ of 1500, with golden wood carvings and well-painted shutters. Furthermore there is a Madonna made by Giovanni Battista Salvi, called Sassoferrato [23] and terracotta works made by Begarelli, such as: six saints in the central aisle, La Pietà and Apogeo Begarelliano - portraying Madonna's Assumption among Pietro, Paolo, Benedetto and Geminiano. The bell-tower was built in 1629.

Beside the church there is a small abbey of Benedictine monks.[22] In the past, San Pietro Monastery was founded outside the city walls in 996, as a bishop's foundation.[22] 

San Bartolomeo Church in Modena

This church, Seat of Compagnia del Gesù, is one of the biggest in this province and was made by the Jesuites between 1607 and 1629.

Its facade was designed by Andrea Galluzzi from Piacenza. Inside there are many frescoes, the most relevant one is the painting made by Father Giuseppe Barbieri, covering the whole vault.

San Giorgio Church

San Giorgio Church is known also as "Sanctuary of Beata Vergine Ausiliatrice of Modena's citizens", according to a name given to it more than a century ago.

Beata Vergine Ausiliatrice (Virgin Mary) is the figure of Madonna, that you can see on the high altar and which used to be outside the sanctuary, in order to allow Modena's citizens to venerate her.

The altar of the church was made by Antonio Loraghi (1666) with polychrome marbles.

The church has a Greek cross plan (it is made of four parts with the same dimension) and was built starting from 1647 according to a project of Gaspare Vigarani and Cristoforo Malagola, called il Galaverna.

San Biagio Church

The church was made in 1319, together with the monastery of the Carmelite friars, by will of Sadoleto family of Modena, who dedicated the church to Beata Vergine del Carmine. Between 1646 and 1658 it was rebuilt during the government of Francesco I. Inside there's only one nave. By each of the six vaults (one for each side) you can see some altars. The choir and the dome were painted by Mattia Preti, pupil of Guercino-

Beside the church there is a cloister, where a frescoed lunette (1300) has been found after the renovation: it portrays Madonna with Child, San Martino and two bidders.

San Domenico Church

This church raised upon a previous church made by Friars Preachers in 1243 and its Facade is west-oriented. As the Este Family came to Modena, the ancient church was demolished (in 1707-1708) to build a new one, that could better match with Palazzo Ducale.

Inside you can see a masterpiece of Antonio Begarelli: Jesus in Marta's home.

 Sant'Eufemia Church also called dell'Adorazione

The tradition says that Sant'Eufemia Church and the former monastery beside it were built in 681 on the place where there was once a hospice for Bendictine nuns, founded by a widow with seven daughters.

The church has an octagonal plan with unequal sides, where there is the presbytery, two lateral chapels and the door. The altar is in the presbytery, which is in front of the entrance. It is made of white marble and has a XVII century painting of  Pietà.

Outside you can see some paintings of symbolic figures in the stucco frames, dated back to 1900 and made by Secondo Grandi. They show San Pietro preaching Vangelo and the martyrdom of Sant'Eufemia and San Pietro.

Santa Maria delle Asse Church also called della SS. Trinità

Santa Maria delle Asse church is located in corso Canalgrande and is one of the oldest of Modena. Its name is due to a wood bridge, used to cross the small river near the church.

The building is dated back to 1599, it has only one nave with six richly decorated lateral chapels.

San Barnaba Church

The church was built in 1660 but was completed later. Inside of the church you can see paintings and furniture of the 18th century. Jacopo Antonio Manini made the paintings on the vaults, as well as some architectural parts and some chiaroscuro perspectives of shelves and festoons.

You can also see six medallions with allegoric themes and chiaroscuro shields all made by Sigismondo Caula. 

Santa Maria delle Grazie Church

The church was built during 1700, although chronicles mentioned it already in the 15th century. Inside there's only one nave and a semicircular apse. There are also four lateral chapels and two small chapels.

The vault was painted in the 19th century by Fermo Forti. On the altar you can see the painting of Madonna with Saints by Francesco Vellani, which is a real icon of 17th century art. 

Gesù Redentore Church

This church is located in Viale Leonardo da Vinci 270 and was made by the architect  Mauro Galantino, who won a competition announced by Conferenza Episcopale Italiana.

The building was consecrated in 2008. Its modern architecture and the internal setting of the liturgical space led to a strong debate in the city. This new and innovative structure is both a breaking point and an element of continuity in the traditional religious buildings of Modena.

San Geminiano Cross

San Geminiano (Patron of Modena) Cross is also called Donkeys Cross[24], as it was built in 1267 in a street of the bishop's palace, near a water spring, where the donkeys used to come and drink water[25].

The cross belonged maybe to the tradition of votive capitols (such as crossed, votive columns and sacella), that used to be made on street corner and fountains. (The theme of the cross belongs to the traditional art of Modena, like the San Geminiano Cross in front of Modena's Cathedral, near the central cusp)[26].