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Sanctuary of St. Maria delle Carceri

The building of the Marian sanctuary, located close to the huge Castello dell'Imperatore, was decided as a consequence of the prodigious events that happened at the end of the XV century around a picture of Madonna with Child, painted outside of the "Prison of the Stinche", that aroused an immediate popular devotion.

At the beginning the project was committed to Giuliano da Maiano but, later on, Lorenzo de' Medici interrupted the work committing it to Giuliano da Sangallo for a new project. Giuliano da Sangallo realized a masterpiece of symmetry.

The works started in 1486 and finished in 1495, left however unfinished the external cover, that has the traditional two-colour print (green of Prato and alberese) in original forms that can be seen also in florentines works (Santa Maria Novella, San Miniato and The Baptistery) and other works in Prato (San Domenico and San Francesco). Its serpentino's fillets divide the spaces according to harmonious proportions and underline also the elegant doors surmounted by gables.

In the inside part the basilique structure, Greek cross with central dome, according to the will of Lorenzo de'Medici, shows clear references to the architecture of Alberti. The result is great: the Basilica is one of the most well-balanced and elegant Greek cross building of the entire Renaissance. Another reference, in this case from the great Master of that period Filippo Brunelleschi, is in the way the dome is raised, on a tholobate with twelve oeil-de-boeuf windows and covered by a truncated cone with a roof lantern.

The trabeation is decored with a frieze in glazed earthenware by Andrea della Robbia (1491) who realized also the four rounds with figures of the evagelists placed in the pendentives of the dome.
The beautiful windows visible on the head of four arms of the church, that represent the Annunciazione, the Natività, the Assunta and the Visitazione, were made on draw by Domenico Ghirlandaio.
On the main altar and fraimed by a canvas of the painter from Prato Antonio Marini (1788-1861). The miracolous fresco of the Madonna with Child between the saints Leonardo and Stefano is conserved. It is dated at the first half of '300.

Two doors connect the Basilica to the sacristy, ancient entrance to the prison. Under the sacristy there are other rooms related to the prison, among which a series of cells. Behind the Basilica there is the rectory, designed by Giuseppe Valentini and carried out between 1787 and 1810. The rectory is inspired by the Classical Architecture of the 1500s (in particular by the roman one that can be seen in Palazzo Farnese).

Basilica di Santa Maria delle Carceri (esterno)
Basilica di Santa Maria delle Carceri (interno)
Altare maggiore della Basilica di Santa Maria delle Carceri
Basilica di Santa Maria delle Carceri (interno)
Phone: 0574 27933
Fax: 0574 443672
Opening time 7:30 - 12:00 and 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.,opening hours may change according to parish needs, it is recommended to call before visiting.
Mass timetables are published on the website of the Diocesi di Prato, during religious services the church can not be visited.
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Data ultima revisione dei contenuti della pagina: marted 17 marzo 2020

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