Romanesque Basilica of St. Zeno (or San Zeno Maggiore and San Zenone) and bell tower (11th century), Verona (UNESCO World Heritage List, 2000), Veneto, Italy

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Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore


A masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, the striped brick-and-stone basilica was built in honour of the city’s patron saint. Enter through the flower-filled cloister into the nave – a vast space lined with 12th- to 15th-century frescoes. Painstaking restoration has revived Mantegna’s 1457–59 Majesty of the Virgin altarpiece, painted with such astonishing perspective that you actually believe there are garlands of fresh fruit hanging behind the Madonna’s throne.

Under the rose window depicting the Wheel of Fortune you'll find meticulously detailed 12th-century bronze doors, which include a scene of an exorcism with a demon being yanked from a woman's mouth. Beneath the main altar lies a brooding crypt, with faces carved into medieval capitals and St Zeno's corpse glowing in a transparent sarcophagus.

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