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The Basilica Of San Miniato Al Monte: An Exceptional Romanesque Structure
cwo3ward @ 08/ 31/ 2014

Being one of the most significant historical monuments of Italy, the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, located in Florence, has received a lot of attention over the centuries. It not only was the wedding venue for the religious wedding that took place in 2012 between Dutch Royal Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma and businessman Albert Brenninkmeijer, but also served as an important location in the 1976 movie Obsession. An architectural marvel as well as an extraordinary masterpiece exhibiting Romanesque art, the basilica has completed almost thousands years on the face of earth! It is a major tourist spot for people from all over the world, and it is one of the few architecturally-rich unspoiled religious structures that exist to date. 


The story behind its construction. 


The basilica has been named after Saint Minias, who happened to be the first Christian martyr of Florence, Italy. Thought to be an Armenian prince, St. Minias embraced the life of hermit after visiting Rome when Emperor Decius was in rule. He was denounced because of his association with Christianity by the emperor, and was ordered to be beheaded. Legend has it that after being beheaded, St. Minias picked his head up, attaching it over his shoulders, and went to die near Monte alle Croci, where a shine was erected later on. That destination is where the basilica was built, starting from the year 1013, by Bishop Alibrando. 


Why is the church architecturally significant? 


The structure has a number of fascinating architectural aspects that both captivate and spellbind the visitors. The geometric patterns utilizing white and green marbles are delights to the eyes. The central pavement boasts of marble intarsia, believed to represent signs associated with animals and zodiacs. The crypt features a wrought-iron gate, utilized to close off the space. Frescoes of 13th to 14th century can be witnessed on the walls too. This Romanesque architecture with tripartite interior having a timber roof has many other significant architectural aspects to offer, some of which astonish even the finest architects of the modern world. 


The location makes it even more attractive. 


Due to the elevated region where it is located, many prefer to visit it by a vehicle instead of walking on foot. The entire City of Florence can be witnessed with the eyes from the front part of the church. The complex has walls that were originally built by Michelangelo for defensive purposes. The entire structure stands in such a way that it overlooks Piazzale Michelangelo below. The church can be seen even from a large distance from the city, and the main structure, with all other additional palaces and buildings, looks marvelous when viewed from a distance. 


Interesting facts about the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte. 


A fine cloister is located near the main church, which was built from the year 1443. There is a bishop’s palace too, which was used as a hospital as well as barracks in the past. The church walls also enclose a cemetery, called Porte Sante, built in the year 1854. The cemetery buries a number of famous figures, such as painter Pietro Annigoni, Pinocchio creator Carlo Collodi, politician Giovanni Spadolini and many other notable persons. Overall, the structure has a lot to offer to visitors who love art, architecture and various religious aspects.


A tip when you plan to visit:


It is a long, steep walk to hike up to the Basilica. The best way to visit is to take a local bus, or take a taxi and have the driver drop you off at the foot of the steps. Then you can walk up to the front of the building and get pictures along the way. After finishing your visit to San Miniato, you can walk down the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo and get some incredible photos of Florence on the other side of the Arno river. We caught a cab from there to take us back to our hotel. When the weather is nice, this makes for a wonderful afternoon on the other side of the Arno River.

What were the WOW moments you experienced?
The excellent thing about this basilica is that it is almost a thousand years old and yet it stands today as strong as ever. Moreover, the fact that the structure, as a whole, is the result of association of a huge number of famous artists, painters and other creative people is just mind-blowing.
Italy, Florence, San Miniato al Monte
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