The convent of San Salvatore, later named after Santa Giulia (915) was founded at the wish of King Desiderius and his wife Ansa in 753 AD, and built on a particularly rich archeological site ( the remains of Roman domus have been found under the basilica of San Salvatore and in the kitchen garden of Santa Giulia. Considerable enlargement and reconstruction over the centuries produced a building constructed round three cloisters, as it is today. Major alterations were made in the time of the city states (XII century: rebuilding of the cloisters, enlargement of San Salvatore's crypt, building of Santa Maria in Solario) and in the late XV century ( complete rebuilding of the cloisters and addition of the north cloister of dormitories, raising of the nuns' choir and repositioning of the front of the church of San Salvatore, which was in turn destroyed and completely redesigned when the new church of Santa Giulia was built in 1499).
Points of Interest
The magnificent Piazza del Foro was traversed by the “Decumanus Massimus” (nowadays Via dei Musei) which ran from Bergamo to Verona.
The Church of San Zeno in Foro faces onto this road. It has a small churchyard enclosed by railings with statues of intertwined dolphins; inside the church a collection of paintings deserves attention.
This square, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is the heart of the city; it contains important historical buildings which symbolize the city's concern with civil rights as well as its religious tradition. The palace of Broletto, which incorporates the municipal tower and the loggia delle grida, exteds along the eastern side as well as two cathedrals - the Duomo Nuovo (the New Cathedral) and the Duomo Vecchio (the Old Cathedral). The Palace of the Broletto is the oldest municipal building in the city and was the centre of political life when Brescia was a city-state. It has a square ground plan with an internal courtyard which was built in stages from the Middle Ages up to the XVII century, when an open bossed arcade was added to the north side.
It is dominated by the magnificent Renaissance Palace of the Loggia, nowadays the town hall. Its building began in 1492. The upper part was finished circa 1570 to the design of Jacopo Sansovino and Andrea Palladio. The splendid decorative sculpture that adorns the palace is in classical style.
The ancient part of Brescia, Roman Brixia so-called since the first century BC because of the rocky, hilly ground on which it is built , is bounded to the north-east by Cidneo Hill (245m). Brich was the Celtic word meaning rocky summit, high places. And the hill with its wonderful view over the whole city, has represented the most important element in the town's history from the time of the first settlements in the Bronze age up until the eve of the XX century.
The church of San Salvatore, part of the monastic complex of San Salvatore -Santa Giulia, constitutes one of the most important surviving examples of Early Medieval religious architecture still standing.
The temple was built by Vespasian in 74 A.D., as the partly restored dedicatory inscription on the pediment shows. The capitolium site had a terrace on three sides with the temple in the middle and two lateral rows of arcades stretching down towards the Forum. The flight of marble steps, which has been restored and made up with bricks, led up to the podium of the raised pronaos, which is characterised by a hexastyle central porch with Corinthian columns about 11 metres high, which were restored during the nineteenth century reconstruction works.
It was built at the end of the XI century on the ruins of the winter basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. The central block is formed of two cylindrical parts of stone, one on top of the other; the circular ambulatory still has the original doorways, which are lower than the present street level, and has large arched windows, while the upper tambour has smaller windows and is relieved above by pilaster strips and small arches in brick, on which the roof rests.
The present loggia was built to replace the previous one built between 1434 and 1436. The first stone was laid in 1492 with a solemn ceremony and the building work continued until about 1570, under the supervision of numerous architects: Tommaso Formentone, then Gasparo da Coirano, Andrea Palladio, Jacopo Sansovino, Galeazzo Alessi, Giovanni Rusconi and Ludovico Beretta.
This is one of the finest examples of convent churches in Italy. Its simple, unadorned style reflects the quietness and serenity typical of Franciscan life. The church, which was finished in 1265, is in late-Romanesque style. The nave is separated from two aisles by ogive arches supported by cylindrical pilasters. The gabled façade has a magnificent rose window in the middle. At the end of the 15th century the right aisle was completed with five elegant altars.