The Basilica of San Zeno
The Basilica of San Zeno is one of the most beautiful, and better-preserved examples of Romanesque architecture in the whole Northern part of Italy. Built-in the Gothic style between 1386 and 1398 is the main chapel by Giovanni and Nicolò da Ferrara. The warm colors of the facade are striking because of the alternated use of tufa stone and bricks. Gary and I spent quite a few hours investigating this church. Our photos will indicate why.
This post contains affiliate links which means that we may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase through a link.
The Magnifiant Doors
The real masterpiece of this Basilica is probably the incredible bronze doors, (photo below.) They portray scenes from the Old and New Testament. What is unclear to the history of this church is the origin or artist of these 48 panels. We did, however, easily spot one with San Zeno holding a fishing rod. In addition, these are considered to be amongst some of the best-preserved bronze doors in Europe.
As we entered the church, something caught my eye right away. The huge engraved rose window, known as Ruota della Fortuna (Wheel of Fortune), created in 1217-25 by Maestro Brioloto and Adamino da San Giorgio. These rose windows seem to intrigue me throughout Italy. Each might be different in color, but they all share the same basic shape and are simply breathtaking.
This church has history and also has even a bit of a tale. It is said that a scene in Shakespeare’s most popular play took place in the crypt of this church. It was the location for the marriage of Romeo and Juliet.
The church has three levels. The unusual beauty in this church is the nave’s ceiling. It was designed to represent the keel of a wooden ship. The massive interior is filled with 12th to 14th-century frescoes. Located behind the main altar, is the famous Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints, by Andrea Mantegna (1459).
Take a virual tour of this extraordinary church
View the well preserved frescoes…
The church was built on the spot where the Saint had been buried, in order to preserve his relics and honor his memory. Saint Zeno, born in Africa was the eighth Bishop of Verona and converted the whole town to Christianity. As with many churches, the 1117 earthquake destroyed much of the bell tower and parts of the monastery.
The Campanile and Cloisters of San Zeno
The campanile at San Zeno is a separate building and built in the same Romanesque style between the years 1123 and 1313. From this area, you can enjoy the beauty of the outside of the Basilica. We strolled around for quite some, it seemed like hours, enjoying the well-manicured grounds.
In Conslusion: Know Before You Go
There is an admission charge to enter the Basilica of San Zeno, much like most other major churches in Verona. Included in the price is a well-done flyer with a floor plan and descriptions of highlights found inside the church. Also note, admission is €3,00 to enter the church or €6,00 for a combination ticket which includes admission to the Duomo, Sant’Anastasia, and San Fermo Maggiore. Furthermore, you can also use the Verona card to enter with a discount.
Finally, The Basilica is located close to Castelvecchio Castle. If walking, enjoy the pathway next to the Adige River to get to the Basilica. You’ll enjoy the stroll and spectacular views.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in September 2016 and was updated in September 2020 for additional information and accuracy.
Please consider subscribing to the blog below for weekly updates delivered right to your email inbox! We’d love to have you along for the ride!