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The lions of Modena

October 30, 2016


There’s no escaping the lions when you visit Modena Duomo. Entering the Piazza Grande, past the massive Ghirlandina bell tower, you approach the south door of the cathedral. Guarding the entrance are two vigilant lions, supporting on their backs the piers of the portico.


What many visitors fail to notice is that, if you stand back and view the portico from a distance, you will see another lion surveying the city from the roof. Look even more carefully and you’ll see that he is holding a cross.



Walk around to the west door and two more lions, with long shaggy manes, are stretching their legs in the sun. By their looks, they appear to be brothers of the lion on the roof.


Inside the Duomo, it comes as no surprise to find that the columns of the parapet are supported by four restless looking lions. There is nothing sentimental about them. All four are holding tight to their captured prey.


Meanwhile, outside on the south wall, comic strip carvings recount the stories of Genesis. A shame faced Adam and Eve try to hide their embarrassment after picking the fruit from the tree of knowledge.


On the next panel, Cain cudgels his brother Abel senseless.


There’s a lot going on at the Duomo if you take the time to look carefully.






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