Time Traveling in Brescia: Brixia and Rotonda
1 June 2016
Brescia’s origins go way back to the Bronze Age. Just a few centuries later (around the IV century B.C.), it became a major religious and economic center when the Cenomani turned it into their capital, named Brixia at the time.
The city was under Lombard rule for two centuries, during this time they erected important civic and worshipping structures, such as the San Salvatore and Santa Giulia temple, nowadays it hosts its wonderful Museo della Città or City Museum.
Brescia was part of the Republic of Venice from 1426 to 1796, then it was part of Austria until 1858 and it was finally annexed to the Kingdom of Italy the the following year after an intense 10-days battle.
The different influences of such a context can be seen from every corner of the city from an architectural standpoint. From Piazza della Vittoria’s classical architecture to the largest Roman archaeological area in all Northern Italy, the Capitolium in Via Musei. Piazza della Loggia’s elegant Venetian style narrates its connection with the ancient Republic of Venice while the neighboring square of piazza Paolo VI hosts structures like the Duomo Nuovo, which shows hints of the Renaissance, the Medieval Broletto and the extraordinary beauty of the Duomo Vecchio, a rare example of Romanic architecture in the country.
The Old Cathedral or Duomo Vecchio was built by Comacine masters in the late XIth century on top of the ruins of what used to be the VIIth century Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica.
Originally provided with two entrances (North and South) the Rotonda’s current main entrance was made in 1571. The treasure of the Holy Crosses and the Field Cross that used to be hoisted in ancient war altar known as Carroccio are guarded here.
The façade of the Old Cathedral features a round base while a characteristic dome covers its indoors. It also guards some important works from Moretto, among them: the Assumption, the Evangelists Luke and Mark, the Easter Lamb Supper, Elijah and the Lamb, plus two paintings from Romanino and one by Franco Maffei.