Basilica San Michele in Foro Lucca

San Michele in Foro

basilica in Lucca dating back to the year 795

The church of San Michele in Foro got its name by the place built. The forum, the first centre of public life in ancient times and then the throbbing heart of the Communal city. On this square stood the Palatium Civitatis, the Public Palace,  built right next to the church but then disappeared, transferring to the Augusta Fortress.

San Michele in Foro is in the historic centre of Lucca. It is an ancient church that goes back to the Roman era dating back to 795. Pope Alexander II of Alexandria commissioned the current building in 1070. Erected in a central position, but oblique to the square like many other churches in Lucca. Iit stands in an enormous space where the sky opens up at last after a journey along narrow, winding medieval streets, like a finally reached destination. This is how it was for the pilgrims who passed through the town as they followed the Francigena pilgrim route. Until 1370, it was the seat of the Major Council and the Podestà, the most important officer in the Government.

Romanesque Style

The influence of the Pisan Romanesque style gets visible in the façade. It got characterized by its immense height and a wealth of sculptures. At the top, a giant marble statue depicts the Archangel Michael defeating the dragon.

Legend says that on bright days you can see a green sparkle gleaming on the statue, which some see as an emerald nestled somewhere in the statue.

The interior of the basilica has three naves with a transept and a semicircular apse. Arches support the main nave on monolithic columns. Moreover, a lunette barrel-vaulted ceilings covers the whole building.

Andrea della Robbia

The church houses three important works of art. Madonna and Child, an enamelled terracotta by Andrea della Robbia, the 1483 Pala Magrini by Filippino Lippi depicting the saints Roch, Sebastian, Jerome and Helena, and a high-relief of the Virgin sculpted by Raffaello di Montelupo.

The interior of the church has two aisles and a nave, which got designed to present beautiful pieces of artwork. A designed transept design covers the two corridors and have a semicircular apse at its end. Multiple arcades designed on monolithic columns support the magnificent nave.

The San Michele church has a bell tower, created between the 12 and 14th centuries, which rises from the southern transept of the building. In addition, the bell tower has a series of beautiful mullioned windows in single, double and triple designs, which add a charming elegance and artistic beauty to the interior of the church.

The last more radical restorations, carried out in the 1800s, gave us the church as we know it today.

The San Michele church is a historical landmark of architectural beauty, which is essential for every tourist to include in his list of famous sights to see, besides the Piazza Anfiteatro and the Torre Guinigi.

The charming luxury Villa Carciofaia is reasonably close to this church. You can reach the basilic in around twenty minutes, including a short walk. Besides, you might want to combine it with lunch at the Restaurant Buca die Sant’Antonio.