Chiesa di San Michele in Foro
The Chiesa di San Michele in Foro (Church of San Michele in Foro), is one of the most beautiful and enchanting historical structures of the city of Lucca. It is a Roman Catholic Church which was built over the remains of the ancient Roman forum. Until 1370, the church was the seat of the Consiglio Maggiore (the Major Council), which was considered as the most important assembly of the commune’s. The most significant feature of this church is that it was originally designed to be dedicated to the Archangel Michael.
The mention of San Michele in Foro, is found in the historical records of the period of 795, as being originally in the forum. In 1070 Alexander Pope II gave the orders for rebuilding the church in its current location. The church itself is rightly considered as one of the most frequented and enchanting tourist attractions in whole of Lucca, because of its exquisite detailed designing and magnificence.
The façade of the San Michele church was originally designed in the 13th century, and depicts all signs of being a symbol and monument of that rich period. The church has a number of sculptures and inlays, the characteristic feature of the architectural beauty of the 13th century. The beautiful façade is a magnificent piece of art, greatly admired by enthusiasts and tourists alike. The façade of the church was later added to, rebuilt and preserved in the 19th century, in order to maintain the artistic beauty of the building as a remembrance of the charming artwork of the 13th century.
The lower part of the façade of the church, presents a series of blind arcades which are a testimony of the masterpiece artwork and detail of the architects and designers of the century. The central portion of these arches constitutes the main portal, which serves to add more beauty to the structure of the building itself.
The upper part of the San Michele church was built with an eye to preserve this monument of architectural magnificence. The architects originally used a lot of iron material on the upper portion of the church, to ensure that the building would be able to weather any storms, rain and rough wind. The church has four orders of small loggias, which add to the architectural elegance and beauty of the structure. These loggias are heavily decorated by exquisite detailed designing, which further exemplifies the church as the perfect specimen for the study for the architectural elegance and finesse of the artists and architects, of the period. One cannot just simply look at the church façade and not wonder at the artistic ingenuity and magnificence of the architects at that time.
The summit of the church are flanked by the statues of two angels, while a 4 meter tall statue of the St. Michael the Archangel, and is positioned in the center of the church structure. The statue was created and placed on the top of the church to mark it as a devotion to the Archangel. The lower right corner of the façade has a statue of the Madonna salutis portus, which was sculpted by the great artist, Matteo Civitali. The statue was especially created to celebrate the end of the plague of 1476.
The interior of the church has two aisles and a nave, which have been designed to present beautiful pieces of artwork. The two aisles have been designed with a transept design and have a semicircular apse at its end. The magnificent nave is supported by multiple arcades designed on monolithic columns.
The San Michele church has a bell tower, created between the 12 and 14th centuries, which rises from the southern transept of the building. 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 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.