Tuesday, May 12, 2015

La Rotonda di San Lorenzo, in Mantua, Italy

After the nine posts describing the Cathedral of Mexico City this month, it is time to change, to take another road, but no longer in Mexico, but in Mantua, Italy, where Estela and I visited the Retonda di San Lorenzo, Piazza delle Erbe, in Mantua, Lombardia, Italy.

Piazza delle Erbe, with its clock tower and the
Rotonda di San Lorenzo on the corner.
Mantua is not just an old city, it is a Roman city, where the most famous poet who ever wrote in Latin, was born: Virgil.
The Rotonda di San Lorenzo,
Piazza delle Erbe

Mantua is a city on a peninsula, surrounded on three of its fours sides by water, and as such, has a natural defense against any army interested in attacking it, or laying siege to it. This condition was take advantage of by the Dukes of Mantua, the Gonzaga dynasty.

The great monuments of Mantua are its Palazzo Ducale and its Duomo. Another beautiful corner of the city is its Piazza delle Erbe, a plaza with a Romanesque round church dedicated to San Lorenzo. Part of the essence of the Lombard Romanesque Style are the bricks.

The simple but beautiful altar of the Rotonda di San Lorenzo,
built in the year 1100 AD.

The upper gallery or woman's gallery

The Temple of Hercules in the Forum Boarium in Rome,
follows the same architectural pattern of the Rotonda:
the monopteros, a circular structure with pillars.
This type of structure was termed a monopteros peripteros by Vitruvius, the Roman writer and architect. The temple of Hércules, built during the Republican era of the Roman Empire close to the shore of the Tiber River, is a good example in the Fórum Boarium in Rome. The Forum Boarium was the "cattle market", hence "foum boarium". Cicero said that he would rather have all his teeth pulled out by a drunken barber in the forum boarium than to have to suffer through certain boaring dissertation. (The pun is Cicero's, not mine.) Now does that sound logical...barbers pulling teeth? Why do you think barbers have a revolving pole with red, blue and white stripes? Barbers did so much tooth pulling and curing abscesses, that they would hang out the used bandages on a pole to try out. Why worry about washing or disinfecting them?
This is part of the reason why experts believe that the Rotonda di San Lorenzo were built on top of a Roman pagan temple, possibly dedicated to Venus. The beauty of this Rotonda was that instead of being a simple cylindrical structure, it is a cylinder inside a larder cylinder, giving it a double circular tile roof. The architectural interplay between both cylinders is not only the source of its aesthetic beauty, but also of its outstanding acoustics, for which it has been chosen at times for small but delightful choral and string instrument concerts.

My wife, Estela, possibly thinking about her brother,
 a priest, who as in the case of this Church,
was likewise named after the
 third century Christian martyr, Lorenzo

The entrance to the Rotonda di San Lorenzo is about
140 centimeters or almost 5 feet below the
level of the rest of the Piazza delle Erbe,
evidence that the Rotonda is from a period centuries
older than the rest of the surroundings
of the 15th century Piazza delle Erbe

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