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Baptistery of Santa Maria Maggiore

Baptistery of Santa Maria Maggiore

The early Christian Baptistery of St.Maria Maggiore The Baptistery, whose circular shape gave it the appellative of the “Rotonda”, belonged to a larger complex. The first written attestation dates back to a diploma of the year 841 A.D. Planned on 15 archivolts and supported by as many couples of smooth columns, the dome covers the central baptismal tub, of octagonal shape, second in Italy only to that of St.Giovanni in Laterano. All the marmoreal elements of the architectural decoration, the bases, the shafts of columns, the capitals and the moulded frames are in counting and in evident function of re-employment.

The Baptistery, called “the Rotonda” owing to its round shape, was built near the Roman forum about the half of the VI century A.D., on a more ancient building whose parts of the mosaic floors still remain. The central dome is supported by 15 archivolts marked by 30 precious marbles twin columns: the green cipollino, the black of Africa, the Egyptian alabaster, the yellow of Numidia. The reused stems of the columns, the bases and the composite capitals, sometimes with faced dolphins, come from buildings of imperial age as well as the fragments of epigraphs and the stony material gathered in the attached museum that houses shelves, frames, pillars, sundials, marmoreal bases. Inside the Rotonda very interesting are the cycles of frescos in a side chapel decorated with New Testament scenes and a superb Madonna in throne with Child attributed to a late giottesque master of the XIV century, perhaps Roberto d’Oderisio. Evocative is also the polychrome stucco relief of St.Maria Maggiore of the XV century.

Realizzato dalla Soprintendenza Beni Archeologici Salerno-Avellino e Benevento, nell'ambito del progetto pilota per la gestione dei beni complessi della Valle del Sarno di cui all'Intesa Istituzionale di Programma, finanziata dalla Regione Campania nell'ambito dell'Accordo di Programma Quadro - II atto integrativo all'APQ 'Sviluppo Locale'.

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