We walk through the beautiful old town of Lucca and come to a large square enclosed by chains. In Piazza San Michele, popularly known as Piazza della catene (Square of Chains), stands the imposing church of San Michele in Foro.
In 795 the church is mentioned for the first time under the name ad foro. In the immediate vicinity there is said to have been a monastery with a hospital. A canal ran across the entire square and the church could initially only be reached via a wooden bridge (Ponte al Foro).
Pope Alexander II commissioned the present church building around 1070. The construction period extended over a longer time. This also explains the fact that several architecturally different stylistic elements can be found.
Visit of the San Michele in Foro
Standing in front of the white church building of San Michele in Foro, the first thing that catches the eye is the facade. This is much larger and higher than the church building behind it. Originally, a higher nave was planned, but it was not built.
Numerous small columns, cornices, spandrels and rosettes decorate the facade. I find it particularly beautiful that no column seems to be the same as another. There are the most diverse motifs and so it looks wonderfully playful and very varied.
On the main facade there is a 3.75-meter marble statue accompanied by two angels. It represents the archangel Michael. With his metal wings and sword he defeats a dragon lying below him. A legend says that the archangel is supposed to wear a ring with a precious stone. The shimmer of this gemstone is said to be visible from a certain point on the square. Unfortunately, since we did not have sunshine during our visit to Lucca, we did not see any glimmer.
The church tower stands on the southern transept and was built at the beginning of the 12th century. Here, too, a legend tells something about the construction of the tower. Thus, the then Doge of Pisa wanted to destroy the last floor of the church tower. Otherwise the tower would have become higher than the tower of the Augusta. From there, the exchange of signs with the Pisans was carried out and the Doge probably saw a problem in this. Whether this is the reason why the tower was built lower, cannot be said today.
When you enter the church, the first thing that catches your eye is the floor plan. It is reminiscent of the shape of a cross. Large Romanesque columns dominate the space.
One can discover numerous works of art. Particularly noteworthy is a Madonna and Child in terracotta and a panel with the image of the Four Saints.
In a flyer that we could buy in the church, we also discovered that there should be medieval drawings on the columns. We went looking for it, because I really wanted to see the “little elephant” on the fourth column on the left. Whether we just didn’t have enough imagination or couldn’t count properly, I don’t know. I honestly didn’t spot anything on any column that I would have considered a drawing. For me it was only “discolorations and single strokes”.
Daily from 8.30 a.m. -12 p.m. and from 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
On Sundays and holidays only for worship visitors.
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