Description of the attraction
Santa Maria Antica is one of the oldest churches in Verona, built at the end of the 12th century. Before that, in its place there was another temple, erected in the 7th century, but destroyed by the earthquake of 1117. The only surviving remains of that church are a fragment of a black and white mosaic floor.
Built in Romanesque style, Santa Maria Antica was consecrated in 1185 by the Patriarch of Aquileia. In the Middle Ages, this small church with a bell tower served as a palace chapel under the Scaligers, since it was located next to their family crypt. To this day, it has retained a very ascetic interior decoration: the walls are faced with brick and stonework, any outstanding decorations are completely absent. The bell tower with vertical windows and a brick-covered spire is built of volcanic tuff. Around the 1630s, the three-nave space of the church was redesigned in the Baroque style, but the restoration of the late 19th century returned the temple to its original Romanesque look. The two side apses are faced with tuff and cotto (porous single-fired red clay tiles), and two frescoes from the early 14th century have survived in the central apse.
Near Santa Maria Antica, as mentioned above, is one of the main tourist attractions of Verona - the Arches of the Scaligers, the Gothic tombstones of the former rulers of the city. And the tombstone of the once mighty Cangrande della Scala - the most modest, but also the most majestic - adorns the side entrance to the church. Excavations in the vicinity of Santa Maria Antica have uncovered 50 11th century graves.