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Modena Cathedral, Ghirlandina Tower and Piazza Grande Heritage Site since 1997


Modena Site

Piazza GrandeIn 1997 the Modena Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande have been declared UNESCO World Heritage.


The joint creation of Lanfranco and Wiligelmo is a masterpiece of human creative genius in which a new dialectical relationship between architecture and sculpture was created in Romanesque art. The Modena complex bears exceptional witness to the cultural traditions of the 12th century and is one of the best examples of an architectural complex where religious and civic values are combined in a medieval Christian town”.


The Modena site is included on the World Heritage list on the basis of cultural criteria. The site itself represents ‘a masterpiece of human creative genius’ and, in particular, of the exceptional figures of (its two very talented creators Lanfranco, the architect, and Wiligelmo, the sculptor. Indeed, their creation, with its many references to antiquity, is considered by many to be an important model for the Romaneque movement in the Po Valley. It is ‘an outstanding example of a type of architecture, which illustrates a particular phase in human history’.

At the beginning of the XII century, Modena Cathedral was the birthplace of a new figurative language which was to exert considerable influence on the development of Romanesque art in the Po Valley . The cathedral’s sculptural framework gives us a privileged insight into the cultural context surrounding the rebirth of monumental sculpture in Europe.

Piazza GrandeThe complex, formed by the Cathedral, Ghirlandina tower and the Square, bears ‘a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which …. has disappeared’. It is an outstanding example of urban settlement and civic community values, with all the intertwining of religious and civic functions these imply.

For the citizens of Modena, inclusion in the world heritage list is a source of great pride, and for tourists too, the UNESCO reputation is seen as a guarantee of brand quality. Indeed, in recent years the number of visits by tourists from further and further afield has increased considerably.

The challenge for us is to preserve the complex in the condition which first made it a World Heritage site, and protect and maintain it over time. At the same time, we must be mindful of the delicate balance between respecting the traditions of the site and enhancing its potential.