The San Giovanni in Monte Complex is a historical 16th century monastery building (1543) that still today overlooks the bordering portion of the old town centre of Bologna from the artificial "hill". A former monastery of the Order of Canons Lateran, it was thoroughly restored at the end of the 1990s and streamlined again after its use as a prison between the age of Napoleon until 1984.
The restoration was a cultural revisiting of its function as place of study and meditation, which the monastery building acquired for the city during the Renaissance age. The large cloister, called "Doric" or "old", a sort of magnificent foyer onto the church square of San Giovanni in Monte that is open to the city, is extremely impressive. The 16th century executions include the large refectory, which today is the Giorgio Prodi Lecture Hall, an official hall where Bartolomeo Cesi's fresco depicting the parable of the royal wedding taken from a passage from the Gospels, Matthew 22, stands in centre stage.
However, the history of the building is much older as, based on tradition, the complex was built in the 5th century by the bishop Petronius for the purpose of symbolically depicting the places and paths of the Passion of Christ. Nevertheless, many clues lead to the hypothesis that the older substratum was formerly the site of a public building of the Augustan age, placed at the border of the Roman city, but strategically situated in a high position overlooking the access of Via Aemilia from the east.
Source: portal of Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, website of the Department of History, Cultures and Civilizations.
The history of this church, like that of the nearby Complesso di Santo Stefano, makes reference to the symbology of the holy places in Jerusalem.
The rounded church of the 5th century used to host a Congregation of the Canons Regular of the Lateran, it was restored in 1200 and given a gothic style around the second half of the 15th century. The elegant façade recalls the style of Veneto and Ferrara (1474); at its entrance there is a vigorous Eagle, the emblem of the Evangelist John, moulded by Nicolò dell'Arca (c. 1481).
The inside building has three naves, valuable glass walls (15th century), precious alterpieces dating back to the 14th and 18th century, the 16th century choir and a peculiar column with an overturned capital, at the bottom of which there is a romanesque cross belonging to the ancient chapel of San Petronio (the wooded Christ dates back to the 16th century). In the past the church housed some paintings by Ercole de' Roberti, Domenichino, Cima from Conegliano, Perugino, along with a copy of the famous Estasi di Santa Cecilia by Raffaello, whose original copy is now exhibited at the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna (National Art Gallery of Bologna).
Source: Curia Arcivescovile and Le Chiese di Bologna (L'Inchiostroblu)
Telephone: +39 051 263894
The History and Cultures Department of Univerisity of Bologna is located in the complex.
Church: everyday, 7:30am-12:00; 3:30pm-7:00pm. Opening hours are subjected to change. For further information call the Archiepiscopal Curia.