Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Modena UNESCO World Heritage Site: Piazza Grande, Palazzo Comunale and Modena Cathedral

Ciao signori e signor, buona sera!

Are you keen checking out beautiful UNESCO world heritage sites when travelling? In Italy, seeing these places is just like taking a little walk in the park. They are that, unbelievably, very common. One would not have expected less of the now-defunct Roman Empire, right?

Modena Duomo

The oldest square of Modena, the Piazza Grande is a UNESCO site. Unfortunately, my favourite square in the city is Piazza XX Settembre located beside the delicious, colourful and lively Albinelli Market (must visit).

It certainly must have been the buzz around it that attracted me to this place. There was a market going on and the stalls were well-decorated and very inviting. It is also a much smaller square, as compared to Piazza Grande and Piazza Roma for example, and is, therefore, more intimate and cosy. To prove this fact, the market in the middle and the outdoor café terraces along the sidelines almost kiss each other. That’s intimate I guess =)

Piazza Grande

But the 2nd runner up on my list is none other than, Piazza Grande herself. Previously called ‘Piazza del Duomo’ in the 12th century and later renamed to Piazza Grande in the 2nd half of the 17th century, this is the heart of Modena. Obviously, the only rule that stays constant and consistent in this world is that change is inevitable. The cathedral and the town hall are both located on Piazza Grande, so everything that is important, or significant in nature, happens here back in those days. Power, however, has shifted, from dogmas and clerics to laws and state politicians. So that explains the renaming of this very important square.

Aren’t we glad that religion is now separate from the state? Well, at least in most countries.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the Read more link below]

The breakthrough in preserving this ancient place and making it a monument before it becomes a parking lot (which it did or was in the 60s as I have read) came when UNESCO declared the piazza as a world heritage site in 1997. This together with the Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), the Modena Cathedral and the Ghirlandina Tower.

I am not the expert on this subject matter, so if you prefer to read the finer prints, please go here instead: Modena UNESCO World Heritage Site 

A quick video I made (I have no idea why Blogger stretched out this video?):

Quite lucky that it was lovely weather in the morning here in Modena because later in the afternoon it rained

Because of the strategic and historical importance of this piazza, and this was before I discovered Piazza XX Settember just around the corner, I have decided to take my lunch here at the Caffeteria La Piazza on the corner of Palazzo Comunale with a great view of course to the square and the cathedral. Nothing could have been more pleasant.

I treated myself to a local favourite – Tagliatelle al Forno and a Spritz. I was surprised that this turned out to be a light meal, considering that pasta can be heavy. I guess when you eat authentic Italian food, you just can’t have enough, eh? But what a shame however for serving the Spritz in a Havana Club glass. A little bit of Cuba in Italy? Speaking of Cuba, I have been, and it is a beautiful country, but please keep those Havana glasses at home.

Picture gallery of Piazza Grande:

Dutched Pinay Modena
Piazza de la Torre Modena

Piazza della Torre is beside Piazza Grande (which is a part of).

Torrefazione Brasili Cafe
Piazza Grande

My view is not bad from the cafe.

Piazza Grande

Palazzo Comunale | Modena Town Hall

The Modena town hall is a 17th-century building, not as old as the cathedral but it held the seat of power in Modena after the Medieval Period.

It didn’t take me long enough to recognise that it is the town hall, well obviously one can see it from the clock tower, but more importantly, when I was here, I saw a lovely, albeit much older bride, step out of her retro white and baby blue VW beetle camper, and with her dog in tow, direct into the arms of her waiting groom, who also, by the way, has his own dog. His and Hers I guess, now that’s quite cute. They weren’t here to do a wedding photo shoot, as seem to be a very popular thing to do in Asia (prenuptial photo shooting in popular places), but they are here, of course, to get married.

The Palazzo Comunale is known for its beautiful rooms and one of these is the Sala dei matrimoni (the Wedding Room), which I didn’t get to see. I did try going up later in the afternoon but all the rooms were locked.

Outside the town hall, right around the corner, is a huge piece of an ancient stone slab that looks like a table. This is called Pietra Ringadora and was used by soldiers and statesmen in the medieval times to place cadavers for public identification. On much better days, they make use of this as a platform to announce a sundry of (important) news to the public. Helaas, the medieval period isn’t all rosy with prince’s in white horses, fairytale-like castles, fancy ballroom dresses and funny green elves you know.

Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall)

Palazzo Comunale

Pietra Ringadora Modena

This is the Pietra Ringadora where unidentified cadavers were placed during the Middle Ages for public identification.

Modena Duomo | Modena Cathedral

The Modena Cathedral started its construction on 9 June 1099, thereby the oldest structure on Piazza Grande. The building is an example and a showcase of Romanesque art by architect, Lanfranco, together with his sculptor, Wiligelmo.

Centuries later the Campionesi Masters succeeded Wiligelmo and created the raised presbytery located just above the crypt where the patron saint of Modena, Saint Geminianus was entombed. This marble pulpit is perhaps the main attraction inside the cathedral. It is big, unique and special that it really stands out. It is impressive and you will right away feel and see its presence as you step inside the cathedral.

The church is open daily and everyone is free to enter, although I think that during mass services, they reserve the church only for those who are really attending, and not visiting.

Modena Cathedral
Modena Cathedral

The Modena Cathedral is worth a visit and it is open daily.

Modena Cathedral
Altar Modena Cathedral

This is the altar of the cathedral. At the back of it, which is a recessed area is a crypt and above it is the raised pulpit in marble.

Modena cathedral
Modena Cathedral

The upper left photo is the crypt.

Modena Cathedral
Modena Cathedral

The Modena Cathedral on the other side of the piazza on Corso Duomo.

Ghirlandina Civic Tower

Interestingly, the chronological history of the Ghirlandina tower is unknown because records were burned during a fire in the 11th century.

After much huffing and puffing, I was able to reach the top. I have to admit I did quick pauses in between, allowing the more fit people to overtake me because the climb was quite dizzying. The reward at the top, however, was worth all the trouble. My only complaint is the windows. They have fastened wrought iron grills on them, and on top of that, they added a glass window from the inside. It felt more like a prison cell than a viewing gallery. Perhaps just a precaution after a bad incident?

If you click on the link to the Ghirlandina tower you will see the beautiful views of Modena that I took.

Made a short video impression:

The street musician is competing with the bells of the tower.

Clowns in Modena

Travel Period: May 2016
Destination: Modena (Emiglia-Romagna), Italy

Keep in touch and follow me on Facebook: Travel & Lifestyle Diaries by Dutched Pinay Travels
Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:04 am

    Thank you, Madam ! Very romantic old town !

    "No longer doubt! Descending from the sky,
    She lifts thee in her arms to realms on high..."


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