Maria di Portonovo
Built on an Adriatic promontory near the Mount Conero, the small church
abbey Santa Maria di Portonovo represents one of the most original
examples of Romanesque arts in Le Marche.
It is located at the declivity of the Mount Conero, in a charming natural
environment, between green woods and the blue Adriatic Sea.
The construction of the church and the monastery dates back to the period
between 1034 and 1050, following a donation by the lords of the nearby
castle of Poggio.
The monastery was abandoned in 1320 due to damages caused by earthquakes,
the danger of landslides from the Mount Conero, and the frequent attacks
by pirates from the sea.
The planimetry associates the longitudinal plant (of early Christian
origins) and the central plant (of Byzantine origins).
The church has an abnormal structure, with the slightly uplifted centre,
and preserves the barrel vault as the central nave.
The side naves have cross vaults without ribs. The complex interior is
also reflected on the outer architecture, which preserves its unity thanks
to small arches and pilaster strips unifying the various elements.
From the iconographic point of view, Santa Maria di Portonovo is a
basilica-church with two side chapels, giving it the shape of a
The main axis remains clear anyway. This model has Byzantine origins, as
the conception of diffused light from the cupola.
The Byzantine current in the Marches is confirmed by some buildings, such
as Santa Maria delle Moje, San Vittore delle Chiuse, San Claudio al
Chienti and Santa Croce a Sassoferrato. Their planimetry interprets the
Greek cross inscribed in a square.
The building is important in that it has preserved its original floor,
which was restored and embellishes the inner space with the variety of its
decorations on stones and earthenware.
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