Basilica di San Fedele

Basilica di San Fedele, Churches of Como

Basilica di San Fedele, Churches of Como

The Basilica di San Fedele in Como is located in the centre of town and is dedicated to Saint Fidelis of Como. It derives from a pre-existing early Christian church dedicated to Saint Euphemia and dating back to the 7th century.

The choir – one of the most important examples of Romanesque architecture in Lombardy – was inspired by the by Palatine Chapel in Aachen and includes a stunning sculptural depiction by the Comacine Masters including zoomorphic figures, monsters and griffons.

The original structure is quintessentially Romanesque, with three irregular naves surrounding a central space which is itself irregular given the smaller dimensions of the main apse in comparison with the two in the transept. These are linked by ambulatories covered by the women's galleries.

At the back of the central nave is the barrel vault with arched-gable structure. Restoration work by Antonio Giussani altered the façade (1914) and the bell tower (1905). Materials dating back to Roman times were reused for the rear portal, which was carved in the Romanesque style, and the capital, which was adapted to turn it into the font in the northern ambulatory which rests on a carved lion.

The neo-Romanesque façade of the Basilica di San Fedele, which was completely revamped in 1914, features a central rose window. The bell tower, which was probably erected at the same time as the rest of the Basilica, collapsed following an earthquake in 1117 and was rebuilt in 1271. The new tower began to lean over the years and it was partly demolished in 1905, leaving just 11.9 metres standing. The rest of the bell tower was rebuilt on top of this.

The pointed portal – also known as the Portal of the Dragon – dates back to between the 11th and 12th centuries and is situated on the right of the apse. The portal features medieval low relief carving, the subject of which is the focus of much interpretation. The most widely accepted hypothesis is that the carvings depict the prophet Habakkuk carrying supplies for Daniel; below is Daniel enthroned in the lions' den.

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