Monday, 18 May 2009

What to see: Basilica of San Lorenzo alle Colonne, Milan

Although the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Milan is one of the oldest churches in Europe it is primarily known for its columns. The colonnade of 16 Corinthian columns in front of the church is from the 2nd or 3rd century and was part of a temple – the columns were moved to their present location in the 4th century.
The church itself can be traced back to the 4th century although there is some disagreement about its origin. San Lorenzo sticks out from other local churches by having a central floor plan, which is more Roman than Lombard.
San Lorenzo has been the victim of several fires through its long history and the present dome was built after the old one collapsed in 1573. Most of the walls as well as the towers and the three chapels date from the late 4th century but the present façade was built as recently as 1894 by the architect Cesare Nava.
In the square outside is a replica of a Roman bronze statue of the Roman Emperor Constantine. It was in Milan that he in 313 issued the Edict of Milan which brought to an end the persecution of Christians.
The first photo shows the basilica’s exterior, the second and third the colonnade. Fourth is the interior of the church, followed by the dome and finally a statue of Pope Johannes (John) XXIII.

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