Piazzale San Francesco, 4, 43121 Parma PR
Phone: +39 0521282079
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday from 6.15am to 12.30pm and from 3pm to 7.30pm; Wednesday from 7.15am to 12.30pm and from 3pm to 7.30pm; Sunday from 8.30am to 12pm and from 4pm to 7.30pm
Among the masterpieces of Gothic-Franciscan art in Emilia, the Church of Saint Francesco del Prato was unfortunately turned into a jail in 1810 and later became dilapidated.
The beginning of its construction probably dates back to 1240-50, even though we have no records of it until 1298. The building should have measured around 38 meters, but it was then lengthened and finished around 1462. The bell tower by Bernardino Zaccagni was erected later, between 1506 and 1523. The facade is decorated in the upper part by a cornice with four mouldings and in the center with a splendid Gothic rosette with a terracotta frame.
The grand interior is divided into three aisles, with a higher central one and only four columns to mark each side with very ample and tall arches. The naves end in polygonal apses with Romanesque and Gothic little arches. The ceiling is made of small gabled beams on crossbeams. In the side aisles each span corresponded to the two chapels containing an altar. The central nave receiveis light from small single-lancet windows.
Oratory of the Conception: built as a chapel annexed to the Church of Saint Francesco del Prato, the oratory is one of the first examples of building with a central plant. It was designed by the architect Zaccagni and finished in ten years (1521-31).
The decoration of the dome’s pendentives, depicting Maria’s life and the Conception was commmissioned to Michelangelo Anselmi and Francesco Maria Rondani. In the dome we find adorned rosettes and little angels, in the drum puttos while in the lunette a sweet Madonna with child by Michelangelo Anselmi.
Over the high altar used to hang the splendid ancona of the conception by Gerolamo Bedoli, now in National Gallery and replaced by a copy.