The architectural masterpiece in Bolzano is the glorious Gothic Cathedral off the Piazza Walther von der Vogelweide (I’m using the Italian names but everything here is displayed in both Italian and German.) Built as a basilica in the days of early Christianity to was rebuilt in the Romanesque style in 1180 and again in the 14th century in its present Gothic form.
It is best viewed from the piazza as on all other sides it is hemmed in by buildings from a later time. A fair bit of damage was done to it during the fierce fighting at the end of the Second World War and there has been extensive restoration and reconstruction. The filigree steeple was completed in 1517 and was the work of Hans Lutz von Schussenriedand. It’s said that when it was first built the locals where afraid to ring the bells for fear it would topple.
Strangely its best exterior features – such as the side entrance and the two frescoes above from the School of Giotto – face onto the piazza. The second fresco is said to represent a pilgrim – recognizable by his walking stick, bag and the large money pouch on his belt (cynics say that you always needed a large money bag to visit Bolzano). The main entrance is rather nondescript and is guarded by the traditional – weather beaten – lions.
I found the high altar just a bit too baroque for my tastes but then I do tend towards the Gothic. There is something refreshing about soaring gothic arches, particularly after the glut of gilt and glorioled cherubs of the churches of Roma.
But the four side altars have some of the finest examples of 17th century carving I’ve ever seen. The four triptych represent Christ the King, The Baptizing of Christ, The Founding of the Duomo and Mary, Queen of Heaven. A right click on any of them will expand the centre panel.
I wasn’t sure who this Saint is on the 3rd triptych – part of his iconography is a deer with the crucifix between its antlers. Anyone got any ideas?
Prior to his work on the steeple von Schussenriedand created the sandstone pulpit; though the scenes of the Doctors of the Church with the Four Evangelists on the panels are interesting I found the small figures that adorne it the most intriguing.
I am always captivated by the woodworkers art and there are two wonderful examples from entirely different eras on display in the Duomo. The confessionals show a heavy influence of Art Nouveau, while this saucy lion with the long tongue graces an old choir pew from an earlier time.
28 maggio – Sant’Emilio