The Tomb and the Basilica of San Domenico in Bolonga

Basilica di San Domenico, Piazza San Domenico, Bologna, Italija

Website of the Sanctuary

+39 051 6400411

Weekdays. from 9.00 am - 12.00 pm and 3.30 pm - 6.00 pm

Basilica of San Domenico

Basilica of San Domenico is one of the richest churches in Bologna in terms of history and art.

San Domenico from Guzman, the Spanish founder of the Order of Preachers (also known as the Dominican Order or the Dominicans), arrived in Bologna around 1200 and took possession of the area where now his church may be found.

L’Arca di san Domenico

After his death in 1221, some monks decided to have a bigger church built, where they could homage San Domenico (his reamins may be still found in the fascinating San Domenico chapel inside a marble ark
Inside the chapel, precious sculptures by Nicola Pisano, Alfonso Lombardini, G.B. Boudard and Niccolò dell’Arca may be seen.

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The church is located in Piazza San Domenico and features a sober Romanesque façade, next to which the Ghisilardi Chapel by Baldassarre Peruzzi may be found.

The inside area of teh Basilica of San Domenico was restored between 1727-32 by Carlo Francesco Dotti, who combined the two ancient medieval nucleus in one bright building, now hosting precious works of art like some paintings by:

  • Guercino (San Tommaso – St Thomas),
  • Luca Cambiaso (Natività – Nativity),
  • Filippino Lippi (Sposalizio mistico di S. Caterina – St Catherine’s mystic wedding),
  • Lodovico Carracci (San Raimondo – St Raymond),
  • Giunta Pisano (Crocifisso – Crucifix).

The statues of S. Petronio and S. Procolo and the angel by Michelangelo, along with the decorations of the chapel (Glorificazione di S. Domenico – St. Dominic’s glorification by Guido Reni), the evocative monastery’s cloisters and San Domenico’s cell are particularly important.

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The sacristy of the Basilica of San Domenico

The service space, it holds the liturgical vestments and all religious objects needed in the liturgy. Large closets placed here are decorated with inlays made by Fra ‘Damiano with episodes from the life of St. Dominic and the Old Testament.

The Wooden Choir

The wooden choir by the monk Damiano from Bergamo is a masterpiece of the Renaissance period (1528-51): it was admired by the Emperor Carlo V and it is still considered as the eighth wonder of the world.

Catherine of Lippi

To the right of the main altar of the Basilica of San Domenico, is the home to a painting of great value from florentine artist Filippino Lippi. The table shows Saint Catherine of Alexandria kneeling at the feet of the Virgin and the Child. The scene is surrounded with the four saints:

  • St. John the Baptist, with the processional cross and camel skins,
  • San Pietro, portrait and hoary with the keys in hand,
  • St. Paul with the sword, a symbol of his sharp tongue and
  • the martyr St. Sebastian, pierced by the arrows and bound to the column.

The artist painted this painting in the last years of his career, in 1501. The architectural background manifests the knowledge of classical architecture and the harmonious balance, the elegance of the composition and the subtle melancholy represent the artist’s characteristic signs.

The Crucifix by Giunta Pisano

The Giunta Pisano crucifix stands out in importance among the works of art of the basilica. Commissioned likely to be exposed above the partition that separated the ancient basilica in two parts, is a Christ patiens, ie an image of the suffering Christ, made with anatomical emphasis: lengthening of proportions, pronounced curvature of the bust, graphic rendering of abdominal folds and physiognomic features, chromatic emaciated.


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Giunta is an artist who is midway between the fixity iconic Byzantine and abstract and naturalistic path opened by Cimabue and, after him, by Giotto.

The Rosary chapel

Over the years of construction of the first chapel of San Domenico and in front of it, the Pepoli family had begun construction of a further chapel  intended to collect the relics of the saint.

However, the construction was interrupted for unknown reasons and was restarted only in 1460.

That was the year John Guidotti completed the work, altering the ancient Gothic structure just in time, already primitive Renaissance character. And provided for complete redecoration on the basis of this Marian cause, so dear to the Dominican spirituality.

The chapel of San Domenico

In August of 1221 Dominic was in Bologna on a visit to his brothers. He fell ill and was taken in the small Benedictine sanctuary of Santa Maria del Monte, just outside Porta San Mamolo (in the place now occupied by the neoclassical Villa Aldini), in the hope that healthy air of the hills of Bologna might benefit him.

Irretrievably worsened, he expressed the desire to be taken away from that place to avoid the risk of being buried far from his brothers. The body of the saint was buried in 1221 behind the altar of St. Nicholas (at the point, which is still marked by a cross affixed to the floor, under one of the desks located near the Chapel of the Rosary), to fulfill his request to stand “under the feet of the brothers. ”

Later, in 1233, the body was moved in a simple marble sarcophagus, this time above the floor, in the right aisle of the new church of the faithful at the foot of the staircase that now leads to the chapel.


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San Domenico from Guzman, the Spanish founder of the Order of Preachers (also known as the Dominican Order or the Dominicans), arrived in Bologna around 1200 and took possession of the area where now his church may be found.

Opening times:

  • From Monday to Friday
    • 9.00am – 12.00pm 
    • 3.30pm – 6.00 pm
  • Saturday
    • 9.00am – 12.00pm
    • 3.30pm – 5.00pm
  • Sunday
  • 3.30pm – 5.00pm.

During the religious services, the tourist visit could be limited or suspended. Opening times can be subjected to little changes. For further information pleasesee the contacts.

by bus: lines and timetables on the website www.tper.it

by car: located in restricted traffic zone ZTL. Ring road exits n. 11/11bis-12 direction city center.

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