San Petronio Basilica

Bologna's main church is the world's fifth largest

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San Petronio Basilica

Incredible hulk

Looming since 1390 over the city's main square, the Piazza Maggiore, this gigantic Gothic building named after Bologna's patron saint Petronius has been the world's fifth largest church - more than 130 metres (427 feet) long, 60 m (197 ft) wide and no fewer than 45 m (148 ft) high. In fact, the builders' ambition was to make this Christendom's largest, surpassing St. Peter's in Rome - Pope Pius IV put a stop to that, you can be sure. San Petronio has played an important role throughout the history of the city, of Europe, and of the Catholic Church. To cite one example, it was here that in 1530 Pope Clement VII crowned Charles I of Spain as Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. One of the treasures herein is an altarpiece by Giovanni of Modena in which Islam's Prophet Mohammed appears as one of those condemned to hell.

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