Basilica di Sant'Andrea

sights / Religious

Basilica di Sant'Andrea information

Mantua , Italy
Street Piazza Andrea Mantegna
+390 376 32 85 04
Opening hours
8am-noon & 3-7pm Mon-Fri, 10.30am-noon & 3-6pm Sat, 11.45am-12.15pm & 3-6pm Sun
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Lonely Planet review

This towering basilica safeguards the golden vessels said to hold earth soaked by the blood of Christ. Longinus, the Roman soldier who speared Christ on the cross, is said to have scooped up the earth and buried it in Mantua after leaving Palestine. Today, these containers rest beneath a marble octagon in front of the altar and are paraded around Mantua in a grand procession on Good Friday.

Ludovico II Gonzaga commissioned Leon Battista Alberti to design the basilica in 1472. Its vast, arched interior is free from pillars and has just one sweeping central aisle, which is dotted with frescoes, gilded ceiling bosses and columns cleverly painted to look like carved stone.

The first chapel on the left contains the tomb of Andrea Mantegna, the man responsible for the splendours in the Palazzo Ducale's Camera degli Sposi. The chapel is beautifully lit and also contains a painting of the Holy Family and John the Baptist, attributed to Mantegna and his school.