Italy, Emilia Romagna, Parma, Piazza Duomo, Battistero at Dusk.

Vincenzo Lombardo


Top choice in Parma

Overshadowing even the cathedral, the octagonal pink-marble baptistery on the south side of the piazza is one of the most important such structures in Italy. Its architecture is a hybrid of Romanesque and Gothic, and its construction started in 1196 on the cusp of the two great architectural eras. The interior is particularly stunning, with its interplay of pencil-thin marble columns and richly coloured 13th-century frescoes in the Byzantine style, interspersed at irregular intervals with statues and bas-reliefs.

Architect and sculptor Benedetto Antelami oversaw the project and it contains his best work, including a celebrated set of figures representing the months, seasons and signs of the zodiac. The baptistery wasn't completed until 1307 thanks to several interruptions, most notably when the supply of pink Verona marble ran out.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Parma attractions

1. Piazza del Duomo

0.02 MILES

Flanked by a harmonious trio of buildings – the duomo, campanile and baptistry – Parma's cathedral square is one of the city's most elegant public spaces.

2. Duomo

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Another daring Romanesque beauty? Well, yes and no. Consecrated in 1106, Parma has a classic Lombard-Romanesque facade, but inside, the gilded pulpit and…

3. Museo Diocesano

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On the other side of the square to the duomo, in the cellars of the former bishop's palace, this museum displays statuary. Highlights include a finely…

4. Pinacoteca Stuard


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6. Palazzo del Governatore

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With its dramatic tower and a giant sundial added in 1829, this 17th-century palazzo dominates the north side of Piazza Garibaldi, Parma's central square…

7. Chiesa di Santa Maria della Steccata

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Behind the Palazzo del Governatore in the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Steccata, you’ll find some of Parmigianino’s most extraordinary work, notably the…

8. La Casa del Suono

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