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Medieval 'Sistine Chapel' in Rome opens its doors

2014-07-13

Judging by the sober appearance of this monastery in Rome, it's hard to imagine the vibrant treasures hidden within. Colorful frescoes adorn the vaulted ceilings of its Gothic Hall, transporting visitors to the 13th Century.

ETTORE PIETRABISSA
General Director, ARCUS
"They discovered them about 10 years ago, when, for the first time, experts realized that underneath a coat of paint, added probably in the 16th Century, there were this frescoes, which we've been uncovering bit by bit.”

After a decade in restoration, the splendor of these images resurfaced. The expressions of their characters, whether happy or serious, tell a story of a different, bygone era.

ANDREINA DRAGHI
Italian Ministry of Tourism
"From the bottom up, they represent the months of the year and their respective crops. Then we have the arts, and further up, in the vaulted ceiling, the four seasons and the winds.”

ETTORE PIETRABISSA
General Director, ARCUS
"This frescoes are slowly gathering a reputation as the 'Sistine Chapel' of the 13th Century, and surely, they're unique. In fact, they're the only complete works from before the 13th century that we've found intact, in Rome.”

The Gothic Hall's frescoes, located at Rome's Basilica of the Four Crowned Martyrs, are incredibly detailed. It even includes one of the first-ever portraits of St. Francis of Assisi, painted some 20 years after the saint's death.

For the first time, these treasures, once hidden from view, are open to the public, and with them, the opportunity to travel back in time to the Middle Ages.


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