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On the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1977, Modena has magnificent urban architecture   

Friday, 15 April 2022 10:04

In 1977 Modena was listed by UNESCO on its World Heritage List for the monumental ensemble of the Piazza Grande, the Ghirlandina Tower, and the Cathedral. This masterpiece of man's creative genius is an expression of the art of two exceptional masters: the architect Lanfranco and the sculptor Wiligelmo. Their work became a model for Po Romanesque architecture, providing a "eminent example of a type of construction or architectural complex illustrating a significant period of human history."

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Modena’s square is largely untouched

The square has remained largely untouched to the present day. This quadrangular space, created in the second half of the 12th century, is surrounded by civic and religious buildings, while the houses on the south-east of the square have been used for craft, commercial, and municipal activities over the centuries.

A mediaeval wonder

The Cathedral delimits the square's left side to the north, and its brick interior retains the original structure. For the main facade Wiligelmo created a new figurative language based on canons from Roman antiquity early Christian and mediaeval art, with the goal of suggesting a promise of salvation to the faithful. The main portal of the facade served as a model for the Cathedral's other doors as well as an example for subsequent medieval Italian sculpture.

An exceptional testimony of a vanished civilization

The Civic Tower, known as the Ghirlandina, is 88 metres high. It is the symbol of the city and is connected to the Cathedral by two arches. It was built in two stages: first the architect Lanfranco and the sculptor Wiligelmo built the six lower orders, and later Arrigo da Campione built the octagonal drum of the cusp. As an example of an urban settlement linked to the values of municipal civilization, the entire complex consisting of these three architectural works is a "unique or at least exceptional testimony of a vanished civilization or tradition."

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